In a Geneva workshop, eight skilled craftspeople labour to transform a very big block of crystal and some ethically sourced gold into one of the world’s most sought-after cinematic awards.
The Palme d’Or, a golden palm tree branch on a crystal base, is the top prize at the Cannes Film Festivalexternal link, which wraps up on May 19, and has been made by the same jewellers, Chopardexternal link, for the past 21 years.
A blue wax Palme is created and buried in plaster. It is heated in a furnace overnight to melt the wax away and leave a hollow plaster mould.
The 2018 edition is made from 118 grams (4.16 oz) of 18-carat yellow gold. The molten metal is poured into the mould, which is then dipped in cold water to break the plaster and leave behind a golden Palme.
Extensive sanding, cleaning and polishing take place before the Palme is deemed fit to sit on the crystal base created by stonemasons.
Two trophies are made in case there are two top prize-winners. Five smaller ones have also been commissioned this year for other categories.
Other Swiss involvement
Swiss participation at Cannes is not limited to making the silverware. Alice Rohrwacher’s “Lazzaro Felice” (Happy as Lazzaro), an Italian-Swiss co-production, is in competition for the Palme d’Or. As is Jean-Luc Godard’s “Le Livre d’Image” (The Image Book), although the film by the 87-year-old French-Swiss director is representing France.
“Chris the Swiss”, Anja Kofmel’s debut animation film, will be screened in the Critics’ Weekexternal link, the parallel section of the Cannes Festival. Flurin Giger’s second short film “Schächer” celebrates its world premiere in the same section.
In addition, two films with Swiss participation will be shown in the Special Screeningsexternal link programme: “Pope Francis – A Man of his Words” by German filmmaker Wim Wenders, coproduced by Célestes Images in Lugano; and the eight-hour film “Dead Souls” by Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing, coproduced by ADOK Films in Geneva.
The award-winning Swiss director Ursula Meier will preside over the jury for the best first feature film in Cannes: the Caméra d’Orexternal link.