Sofia Coppola scored a historic victory at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday night when she became only the second woman in the event's 70-year history to win the best director award. The American, who won with Civil War drama The Beguiled, is the first woman to win since Soviet director Yuliya Soltsneva, who was awarded the prize in 1961 for World War II movie The Story of the Flaming Years, Slate reports. The coveted Palme D'Or prize went to Swedish writer-director Ruben Ostlund's comedy The Square, the AP reports. Diane Kruger won best actress and Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor.
Coppola, one of three women among the 19 directors in the competition this year, was not present to accept her prize but she released a statement saying it was an "exciting start" to be honored in Cannes. "I'm thankful to my great team and cast and to Focus and Universal for their support of women-driven films," she said, per the Hollywood Reporter. Beguiled star Nicole Kidman also missed the ceremony, where she was honored with a special prize to mark the festival's 70th anniversary. Jury member Will Smith collected it on her behalf, pretending to cry and saying, "Merci beaucoup madam and monsieurs!"