• Festivals

Cannes: Breakthrough Artists Fêted at Variety Golden Globes Awards Party

The political and personal intermingled at a special Variety Golden Globes awards party on Friday, May 19, during the first weekend of the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival. Actors Zahra Amir Ebrahimi, Tye Sheridan, Charles Melton and Shaunette Renée Wilson were all honored as breakthrough performers for their work in telling touching stories of individual reflection and triumph, alongside calls for greater solidarity in the artistic community.


Taking the stage with Variety co-editor-in-chief Ramin Setoodeh, Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Helen Hoehne kicked off the roughly 35-minute presentation portion of the festive evening, which was held at the Barrière Beach at Le Majestic. The weather obliged for the hybrid indoor-outdoor event, as a light drizzle receded just as the night’s festivities commenced.


“From its inception, the Golden Globes have always celebrated (fresh) voices in cinema, and we’re glad to be continuing that tradition tonight,” said Hoehne. “We’re especially committed to fostering new and young talent through our annual grants program, which not only offers financial assistance to those from underserved communities but also creates an ecosystem which nurtures growth, learning, and artistic exploration.”

Cate Blanchett, a producer on Ebrahimi’s Shayda, which debuted earlier this year at Sundance and will be distributed theatrically by Sony Pictures Classics, introduced the Iranian-born Holy Spider actress, who picked up the Best Actress prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. “She’s already undeniably one of the world’s greatest actors, [and] tonight she’s being ‘broken through’ for her incredible generosity and her incredible spirit, to use her platform to give voice to women who do not have a voice,” said Blanchett before pausing dramatically.

“So tonight,” she continued, “I am going to take my heels off in honor of women of Iran, and the extraordinary Zahra Amir Ebrahimi!” While presenting Ebrahimi with the triangular-shaped award, Blanchett then joked, “This is to stab everyone who stands in the way of women’s rights!”

In her subsequent remarks, a clearly emotional Ebrahimi praised and thanked Blanchett, who she deemed an inspiration, and also took the time to call attention to ongoing protests roiling her native country, which she said is “executing innocent people.”

“I always thought being an actress was a paradox,” said Ebrahimi, “both serving emotions of your own and being a flag or mirror or light. This award celebrates this paradox.”

Black Flies director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire took the stage to introduce Sheridan — recalling how he met him five years earlier to discuss another project, and then found his mind returning to the young star when casting his latest film.

While accepting the award, Sheridan both praised the previous work of his collaborator and recalled the memory and feelings of a lengthy standing ovation that Mud received at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. “To be in that room with that crowd and experience that at 15 years old — not knowing anything about film, not knowing how passionate people were about it — this festival really means a lot to me,” he said.

After dedicating his movie, (a competition title about New York City paramedics which also stars Sean Penn), to emergency responders around the world, Sheridan noted, “I’ve been super lucky to work with a lot of talented people. And you can’t be a breakthrough artist without having people who support you.

May December director Todd Haynes took the stage next, describing the particularly daunting challenge of finding a young actor who could hold his own opposite Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman. Only half joking, Haynes noted he initially felt Riverdale actor Melton was “too good-looking” for the role of the much younger husband of Moore’s character.

But the lauded filmmaker was won over by an audition he praised as possessing “great nuance, understanding and confidence.” It certainly helped, Haynes noted, that Melton “agreed to put on 35 pounds to look more like a regular suburban guy.”

A beaming Melton took to the stage and said the 23-day production was the greatest experience of his career. “It’s rare to find someone that trusts in you more than you trust in yourself,” said Melton. “And Todd trusted in me every step of the way and took me places that I only hoped existed as an actor. I wouldn’t be here without you, Todd.”

Finally, award-winning playwright and actor Jeremy O. Harris took to the stage to introduce Wilson, who contributed a standout supporting performance in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. In a raucous and colorful introduction touching upon some of the shared joys and struggles at their alma mater, Yale School of Drama, Harris said, “Shaunette not only stood as a guiding light as a mentor and alumni, but she also stood as a guiding light of what our careers could look like.”

Deeming the honor “wild and crazy and beautiful and lovely,” a stylishly dressed Wilson said, “I think the sentiment of seeing promise in an actor is wonderful and beautiful — that means you see their limitless potential and the depth of their gift and talent, no matter where they are in their career.”

Officially sponsored by Deloitte, alongside premier sponsors Campari and Neom, the Variety Golden Globes awards party lasted until almost two in the morning, with attendees enjoying music from a deejay while also catching up on festival news.


Other attendees at the soiree included Wilson’s Dial of Destiny costars Mads Mikkelsen and Boyd Holbrook, The Sex Lives of College Girls actress Pauline Chalamet (sister of Timothée Chalamet), and Ted Lasso actor Stephen Manas, plus a healthy roster of behind-the-scenes executive talent, as well as Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Frémaux.