Entertainment

Palm Dog: Kodi, star of 'Dog on Trial,' is the top dog of Cannes

CANNES, France — (AP) — The verdict is in: The titular "Dog on Trial" was declared this year's Palm Dog winner in Cannes on Friday.

Kodi the Belgian Malinois mix, who plays Cosmos in the Swiss comedy-drama, narrowly beat Xin, a sighthound who instead wagged away with the Grand Jury Prize for the Chinese drama “Black Dog.”

The Palm Dog awards aren't officially a part of the Cannes Film Festival, but do honor the canines who appear in the festival's films.

In a rare treat perhaps reflecting the growth of the contest's popularity, both dogs were in Cannes to pick up their medals — in this case, dog collars. Both dogs seemed to bask in the limelight. Kodi barked along with the music as “Chihuahua” by DJ BoBo blasted from the speakers and did tricks on two legs. Xin took a more chilled approach, lying down on stage while soaking up the adoration.

Held on a beachfront on Cannes' famed Croisette, the somewhat chaotic awards were well attended by local dogs, their owners and film festival journalists alike. The bar provided rose wine above the table for the human guests and a line of water bowls underneath for the canine attendees.

Historically, many laureates haven't been on hand: Last year's winner, Messi, was awarded in absentia for his role as Snoop in "Anatomy of a Fall." His Palm Dog collar was instead symbolically wrapped around a border collie named Stan that lacked the thespian's piercing blue eyes.

In 2019, director Quentin Tarantino claimed the collar on behalf of Sayuri, who played Brandy the heroic pit bull in his "Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood."

The contest was created in 2001. The annual award and its spinoff categories are decided by a jury of reporters.

For Kodi, a nearly 10-year-old rescue, the honor was the cap to his career — and to a whirlwind week that saw him barred from the red carpet for his film's premiere.

In “Dog on Trial,” directed by and starring Laetitia Dosch, Kodi's character is an unruly dog who bites a woman and is put, yes, on trial, with his life at stake. The film is inspired by a true story and explores themes of feminism as well as the status of dogs.

Dosch told The Associated Press after the awards that although quirky and eccentric, the Palm Dog also has a serious point to make.

“It’s talking about animal status and other beautiful parts that now dogs have on films and how scriptwriters, directors are interested in the place of animals in our society,” she said.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese superstar and "Black Dog" actor Eddie Peng showed up to support Xin, not just as her co-star but also as her owner and oracle, giving a speech he joked was from the dog. In the film directed by Hu Guan, Peng plays a man who's ordered to remove stray dogs from his hometown before the Olympic Games. He adopted his canine co-star after bonding with her on set.

“Maybe in the future I don’t need to work anymore,” Peng told The Associated Press earlier, commenting on Xin's newfound popularity. “I’ll just be the agent with my dog.”

Three prizes were also awarded for best "mutt moments." These went to Chippy from Francis Ford Coppola's "Megalopolis," Dave in Andrea Arnold's "Bird" and a surreal hound ensemble in Yorgos Lanthimos' "Kinds of Kindness."

You may be forgiven for thinking the festival can come to a close with the awarding of the Palm Dog, but there are in fact actual film awards still to come. The Palme d'Or and other top awards will be handed out Saturday.

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In a story published May 24, 2024, The Associated Press reported that Kodi the dog was a griffon mix. The story was updated June 12, 2024, to report that a subsequent DNA test revealed that Kodi is a Belgian Malinois mix, with no griffon ancestry.

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For more coverage of the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, visit https://apnews.com/hub/cannes-film-festival.

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