‘Aftersun,’ ‘War Pony,’ ‘Palm Trees and Power Lines’ Win Top Prizes at Deauville Festival

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Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun” won the Grand Prize of the Deauville American Film Festival on Saturday evening during a ceremony which was followed by the French premiere of Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling.”

“Aftersun” had world premiered at Critics Week in Cannes where it won a prize. The movie marks the feature debut of Wells, a New York-based Scottish filmmaker. Headlined by “Normal People” actor Paul Mescal, the bittersweet drama follows a father and his daughter who take a holiday at a Turkish resort in the late 1990s. The movie is being represented in international markets by Charades and will be distributed in North America by A24.

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Gina Gammell and Riley Keough’s “War Pony,” meanwhile, won the Deauville American Film Festival’s Revelation Award and Jury Prize, shared with Jamie Dack’s “Palm Trees and Power Lines.” “War Pony,” which world premiered in Un Certain Regard in Cannes and won the Golden Camera, follows two boys growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Sold around the world by Protagonist, the film took seven years from conception to post-production.

“Palm Trees and Power Lines,” another feature debut, bowed at Sundance where it won best director for Dack. The film, which expands on Dack’s 2018 Cinéfondation short of the same title, tells the story of a disconnected teenage girl who enters a relationship with a man twice her age. Constellation Films handles international sales on the movie.

The competition also included Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s “The Silent Twins,” Chloe Okuno’s “Watcher,” Nick Richey’s “1-800-HOT-NITE,” Riley Stearns’s “Dual,” Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s “Montana Story,” Sophia Silver’s “Over/Under,” Tyler Riggs’s “Peace in the Valley,” Vivian Kerr’s “Scrap” and Jamie Sisley’s “Stay Awake.” As many as eight out of 13 features in competition were first films.

The jury of this year’s edition was presided over by Arnaud Desplechin, whose latest film “Brother and Sister” competed at Cannes. Members of the jury include cinematographer Jean Paul Civeyrac, actors Léa Drucker, Pierre Deladonchamps and Marine Vacth, novelist Yasmina Khadra, filmmaker Sophie Letourneur and actor-director Alex Lutz.

The Normandy-set festival, which is headed by artistic director Bruno Barde and is open to the public, gave its audience award to John Patton Ford’s “Emily the Criminal.” The thriller stars Aubrey Plaza as an embittered art student who turns to crime in modern-day Los Angeles.

The festival also handed out the d’Ornano-Valenti prize for best French film to Charlotte Le Bon’s feature debut “Falcon Lake,” a coming-of-age tale of love and ghosts. The movie, repped by Memento International, world premiered at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight. Backed by the  Franco-American Cultural Fund, the prize pays tribute to former Deauville Mayor Michel D’Ornano and former MPAA Chairman Jack Valenti; and boasts a jury presided each year by Jean-Guillaume d’Ornano.

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