Tilda Swinton and Sean Baker were among the human co-conspirators present to accept awards on behalf of the canine scene-stealers in their Cannes films at the irreverent Palm Dog Awards on the Croisette this afternoon. Masterminded by journalist Toby Rose in 2001, inspired by his own French fox terrier Muttley, the Palm Dog Awards show has become an annual treat on the penultimate day of the Cannes Film Festival, and celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Swinton accepted the Palm Dog prize on behalf of her very own trio of spaniels, who star alongside her in Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir Part II. Hogg was present at the show too, albeit over FaceTime from Swinton’s iPhone.
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Baker, who arrived to the ceremony with his own dogs—Bunsen and Boonee, who was Dree Hemingway’s co-star in Baker’s earlier film Starlet—accepted the prize on behalf of Sophie, who was adopted during shooting and traded a rough-and-tumble existence in Galveston, TX for a happy new family life in LA.
“This is the beginning of an incredible career for Sophie,” Baker told Deadline. “She’s now living in LA and has an agent. She really wouldn’t be alive today if she hadn’t been rescued—she had heartworm and the vet gave her a few weeks to live. She is the sweetest pitbull ever.”
The prizes were handed out by jury members including this very reporter, Deadline’s Executive Awards Editor Joe Utichi, and Deadline contributors Damon Wise and Anna Smith. The rest of the jury was comprised of journalists Kaleem Aftab, Rita Di Santo, Wendy Mitchell and Tim Robey.
“Having Tilda and Sean present for our 20th anniversary of the Palm Dog Awards is the best birthday present,” said Rose. “In The Souvenir Part II, the dogs were very much part of the family, in every sense of the word, since they’re Tilda’s very own pooches. A wonderful personal touch. In Red Rocket, Sophie was a lost and found with a very sad story made good. It doesn’t get better than that. And Lamb‘s Panda was a truly deserving win for the timeless, treasured qualities of a dog in full empathy with its owner, and loyal to a fault, making the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, Panda has since died in real life, so this will be a posthumous honor.”
A further prize, the Palm DogManitarian Award, went to credit card giant Mastercard, who emphasized the role of dogs in its marketing in this pandemic year, presenting them as ideal companions for the new work-from-home environment.
The golden collars on offer at the Palm Dogs have become choice prizes for festival filmmakers. In 2019, Quentin Tarantino came to Cannes with an eye on a Palm Dog win for Brandy, Brad Pitt’s character’s dog in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The director wasn’t disappointed, and turned up to the ceremony to collect Brandy’s prize. Other notable canines awarded in the past include the legendary Uggie, star of 2012’s The Artist.