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'Shoplifters' wins Palme d'Or, grand prize to Spike Lee

A tumultuous Cannes Film Festival concluded Saturday with the Palme d'Or awarded to Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Shoplifters," a tender portrait of a poor, impoverished family, while Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento vowed justice will come to all sexual predators.

At the closing ceremony for the 71st edition of the French Riviera extravaganza, the Cate Blanchett-led jury selected one of the festival's most acclaimed entries, one hailed as a modest masterpiece from a veteran filmmaker renowned for his delicate touch. "Shoplifters" is about a small-time thief who takes a young girl home to his family; after seeing scars from abuse, they decide to keep her and raise her as their own.

While many speculated that the Cate Blanchett-led jury might award only the second Palme d'Or to a film directed by a woman, the most likely contender — Lebanese director Nadine Labaki's "Capernaum" — was instead given Cannes' jury prize. The film drew a rousing standing ovation at its premiere Thursday but less enthusiastic critic reviews for its tale of a 12-year-old boy living in poverty who sues his parents for bringing him into such a cruel world.

Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman," the highest profile American film in competition at Cannes, was awarded the grand prize. The film ignited the festival with its true tale of a black police detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Lee connected the film to modern day with real footage from last year's violent white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"I take this on the behalf of the People's Republic of Brooklyn, New York," said Lee, accepting his award.

The 12-day festival was the first since the downfall of Weinstein, who was for decades an annual fixture in Cannes. In the aftermath, this year's festival was shaken by debate over gender equality in the film industry and at Cannes. In a striking rally, 82 women — the same number of female filmmakers to ever be selected to Cannes competition lineup — stood on the Palais red-carpet steps in what Blanchett called "a symbol of our determination to change and progress."

Some changes were swift. Just days later, with Blanchett's jury looking on, Cannes' Artistic Director Thierry Fremaux signed a pledge to make the festival's selection process more transparent and promised other measures to improve the festival's record of including female filmmakers.

It was also a part of Saturday's closing ceremony. Argento raised a fist high on the red carpet. The actress has said Weinstein raped her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997. (Weinstein has denied all accusations of non-consensual sex.)

"In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21-years-old. This festival was his hunting ground," said Argento at the ceremony. "I want to make a prediction: Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again."

"And even tonight, sitting among you, there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women for behavior that does not belong in this industry," said Argento. "You know who you are. But more importantly, we know who you are. And we're not going to allow you to get away with it any longer."

Following last year's Cannes, jury member Jessica Chastain was critical about the female representation on view in that year's films. Blanchett told reporters Saturday that her concerns were primarily behind the camera. Three of this year's 21 films in competition were directed by women.

"All of us, men and women alike on the jury would love to see more female directorial voices represented," said Blanchett. "I feel that there's a very strong drive within the organization of the Cannes Film Festival to make sure they explore, with a curious hat on, female perspectives. There perhaps weren't as many female driven narratives as I would have liked but there certainly some powerhouse female performances."

Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski took best director for his follow-up to the Oscar-winning "Ida," ''Cold War." Like "Ida," ''Cold War" is a black-and-white period film that delves into Polish history. The first Polish film in Cannes's competition in 37 years, "Cold War" is about an up-and-down romance in post-war Poland and Paris, behind and outside the Soviet Iron Curtain.

Pawlikowski has been critical of Poland's current right-wing government.

"I'm showing history through people, through emotions with all its complexities and paradoxes. To show history like that is really important these days, to go against the tendency to push everything into ideological narrative," he said. "The fact that it's appreciated here will make a difference in Poland. Poland is an interesting country. It's not how it appears to outsiders these days, believe me."

Best actress went to Samal Yeslyamova for Kazakh writer-director Sergey Dvortsevoy's "Ayka." Taking best actor was Marcello Fonte for Matteo Garrone's "Dogman," an award presented by fellow Italian actor Roberto Benigni.

The prize for best screenplay was split between Italian writer-director Alice Rohrwacher's time-warped fable about a poor farm boy in rural Italy "Happy as Lazzaro" and Nader Saeivar and Jafar Panahi's script for "Three Faces." On Sunday, Deadline reported that "Happy as Lazzaro" was acquired for North American distribution by Netflix, which pulled its films from Cannes this year in a dispute over theatrical distribution of its titles in France.

Panahi has been banned from traveling outside Iran since he was arrested for participating in "propaganda against the regime" in 2010 after supporting mass protests over the country's disputed 2009 election. Both Panahi and Russia's Kirill Serebrennikov were unable to attend their Cannes premieres because they are barred from traveling out of their home countries.

A "Palme d'Or Speciale," a special first-time award, was given to Jean-Luc Godard for "continually striving to define and refine what cinema can be," said Blanchett. Godard's "Image Book" is a film essay collage that contemplates the West's relationship to the Arab world. The 87-year-old French filmmaking legend called into his Cannes press conference via FaceTime.

The closing ceremony came ahead of the premiere of Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote." Famously victim to countless delays and debacles, the film took nearly 30 years for Gilliam to complete. And its Cannes premiere was still almost canceled because of an injunction sought by producer Paolo Branco, who insisted the festival needed his permission. French courts last week denied Branco's request, allowing the screening to move forward.

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This story corrects the spelling of director Hirokazu Kore-eda.

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.

Guess who's coming to Windsor?

The ceremony married the pomp and circumstance of Britain's most sacred institution with elements of black culture, drawing viewers not normally drawn to the spectacle of the monarchy.

"This was black history," said Joy Widgeon, who attended a house party in Burlington, New Jersey, with her 6- and 8-year-old daughters in tow. "African-Americans were front and center at the royal wedding. This was the first time, and hopefully it won't be the last. I am here for it."

Race has loomed over the couple's relationship from the beginning. After the pair went public in 2016, Harry lashed out in a public statement at what he described as "racial undertones" in media coverage and overt racism toward his then-girlfriend, who has lamented such views. At the announcement of their engagement last fall, many black women around the world cheered the news as a fairytale that doesn't always include them.

Markle, 36, became the first black member of the British royal family in modern history. Her mother, Doria Ragland, is black. Her father is white.

A diverse group of about 20 — mostly black women — gathered before dawn on the rainy Saturday at a house party in Burlington, New Jersey, right outside Philadelphia. They were among the scores of African-Americans and British Americans participating in the global event in person, at home and online.

Decorated with a banner reading "Congratulations Harry and Meghan!," with the bride's biography on a nearby table and glasses of tea and mimosas and the smell of breakfast cooking in the background, the guests gathered in two rooms.

"We were keen to see who was going to look like us," said socialite David Alexander Jenkins, who has ridden horses in the same Windsor countryside where the wedding was held.

As Markle emerged from the burgundy Rolls Royce that brought her to St. George's Chapel, Paula Jackson gasped with approval.

"Oh, she looks lovely! Gorgeous! Beautiful!" Jackson exclaimed, wearing a jeweled blazer and sparkling tiara, sitting on a couch with a spot marked on a note in capital letters: RESERVED FOR THE QUEEN.

"I'm just so happy for her," Jackson said of Markle. "She will be an example for our young African-American women."

The couple also asked Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to participate in the ceremony. Elected the first African-American to his role in the Episcopal Church in 2015, Curry is based in Chicago. His theology, rooted in social justice, was on full display Saturday, as he invoked the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King in his lengthy address to the couple and audience.

For Angelita Byrd, the moment reminded her of being in church with her grandmother.

"He brought a little bit of Southern Baptist America to Europe," said Byrd, of Philadelphia. "You know what I love about all of this? She's adding a little spice to the royal family."

The bride personally called to invite 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who is black, to play at the wedding after Prince Harry saw him perform at a London event supporting an Antiguan charity. The diverse, Christian gospel group Kingdom Choir performed a stirring rendition of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me."

Church hats — a shared tradition in black and British culture — were a fashion highlight. And Markle's dress, designed by Givenchy, was reminiscent of the dress Princess Angela of Liechtenstein wore when she wed Prince Maximillian in their groundbreaking January 2000 ceremony.

Sanya Brown, already a fan of the royals who watched Princess Diana's funeral, as well as Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton, initially planned to watch alone in her pajamas, but made a last-minute decision this week to watch with a girlfriend at her house in the west Philadelphia suburb of Wynnefield.

"In the time of the 'black girl magic' moment we are currently living in ... for this black girl from Los Angeles to be marrying into the royal family is a really dope and historic moment, so why not have that with someone and celebrate her magic?" she explained.

"We've seen (Harry), but never like this," Brown said. "This is different. She is different."

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Whack is The Associated Press' national writer on race and ethnicity. Follow her work on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/emarvelous.

Acclaimed country musician Margo Price chats up ticket scalper outside own show

Concert ticket scalpers are often frowned upon by musicians and their fans, but one savvy country musician decided to engage one outside of her own show.

>> Read more trending news 

Margo Price and her band performed at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta Thursday night. Before the show, Price was seen approaching a scalper selling tickets to her show. The interaction was caught on video and posted on Price's Twitter account.

Pointing to the marquee, Price asked, "Do you know this girl? Is she good?"

The scalper assured Price it's good music. Price promised to return to buy the tickets after going to the ATM.

This month, Price was nominated for artist, song and album of the year by the Americana Music Association for her latest album, "All American Made."

While some noted that the scalper was selling the tickets for $25, which was about face value, scalpers often sell fake tickets.

Georgia has strict ticket resale laws, but authorities admit enforcement is challenging.

Meghan Markle selects Givenchy dress for royal wedding

Meghan Markle chose French fashion label Givenchy for her royal wedding dress, designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller.

Markle and Waight Keller worked closely together on the design, according to Kensington Palace, highlighting Markle’s “minimal elegance.”

>> Read more trending news 

The gown was made of pure silk, with an open neckline and slight A-line skirt.

Six meticulously placed seams helped create the lines of the dress. The lines of the dress extend to the train, which flowed in soft round folds that included an underskirt in triple silk organza.

Waight Keller researched the fabric by touring mills throughout Europe, according to the palace. She selected an exclusive double-bonded silk with a soft matte finish. 

Markle and Waight Keller chose the pure white color to reflect a “fresh modernity.”

The open bateau neckline framed Markle’s shoulders and she chose slim three-quarter length sleeves.

Markle’s veil was over 16 feet long and made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk and organza. 

Markle wanted to represent all 53 countries of the British Commonwealth family of nations in her dress, which are reflected by the flowers in the veil, according to Kensington Palace

Making sure each flower was unique took an enormous amount of time and care, Kensington Palace said

Each flower was flattened to create the unique and delicate design. Workers spent hundreds of hours sewing. The Palace said the workers had to wash their hands every 30 minutes to make sure the tulle and threads stayed pristine.

Markle also included some of her favorite flowers, including wintersweet, which grows on the grounds of Kensington Palace in front of Nottingham Cottage. She also chose the California poppy to represent her home state of California. 

In the very front of the veil, there are embroidered crops of wheat, symbolizing love and charity.

The look was completed with a tiara borrowed from Queen Elizabeth II. It is from Queen Mary’s collection held in the Queen’s vault, according to PEOPLE

The diamond bandeau in the tiara was created in 1932, with the center brooch dating to 1893.

Markle wore earrings and a bracelet by Cartier and a Welsh gold ring, given to her as a gift from the Queen, PEOPLE reports.

Markle followed in Princess Diana and Kate Middleton’s footsteps, who both chose British designers for their dresses. Princess Diana’s dress was designed by Elizabeth Emanuel and Middleton’s dress was designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, according to Marie Claire.

Waight Keller is the first female artistic director for Givenchy. She was named artistic director in 2017.

According to her biography on Givenchy’s website, Waight Keller launched her design career with Calvin Klein and Gucci. She also led the British label Chloe. 

Americans fete royal wedding in pubs, hotels and homes

From pubgoers in pajamas to merrymakers in finery at a posh hotel, Americans cheered and teared up Saturday as they watched Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry in a royal wedding with trans-Atlantic resonance.

People gathered at wedding watch parties — some before dawn — at a Hollywood pub and New York's swanky Plaza hotel, in oceanfront towns in Florida and spots in the Rocky Mountains, to see an American of mixed race heritage become part of Britain's royal family.

If the U.K. and the U.S. have long enjoyed a "special relationship," this gave it a whole new meaning.

"It was a real-life fairy tale," said Erin Massa, 34, who watched at a Minneapolis pub. "If someone my age from America can suddenly become a princess, essentially, anything really is possible."

About 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away at a home in Burlington, New Jersey, Paula Jackson gasped when Markle emerged from the Rolls-Royce that brought her to St. George's Chapel in Windsor, the British royals' longtime home.

"I'm just so happy for her," said Jackson, dressed in a jeweled blazer and tiara. "She will be an example for our young, African-American women."

At gatherings around the U.S., viewers admitted Markle's beauty and naturalness. But they also marveled at the boundary-breaking union between the 33-year-old prince who has been open about how grief shadowed his life for decades after the 1997 death of his mother, Princess Diana, and the 36-year-old American actress who has spoken out about coming to terms with her biracial identity as the daughter of a black mother and white father.

Some viewers wiped away tears as they watched the wedding from Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, Markle's alma mater.

"It's all my family can talk about," said 15-year-old sophomore Daniella Bueno, who got up at 3 a.m. to join dozens of students, parents and staffers for the event. "She's representing our school in such a beautiful way."

Across the country, Varinda Missett and Ellen Polkes donned hats, gloves and bejeweled high heels and went to the Plaza early in the morning because they "wanted to see a California girl become a princess," Missett said.

A crowd in fascinators and tiaras gathered for the storied hotel's first royal wedding viewing party, which came complete with deviled eggs, black pudding, Earl Grey tea butter biscuits and cake pops with champagne and flower liqueur.

"We love a great love story," said Maureen Farley, the hotel's director of hospitality. "This surely is one of the best."

If there was a certain historical irony in Americans celebrating British royalty nearly 242 years after the Declaration of Independence, it had little sway Saturday over Americans who say they were simply rallying around love.

"I think this is a wonderful new way to be royal," said Ralph Campbell, 67, who donned a three-piece dark suit and bow tie for a watch party at Brit's Pub in Minneapolis. He called the ceremony "a global wedding" and added: "I think it will only help the cause of peace in the world."

Another guest at Brit's Pub, British native Victoria Rylee, had no problem with an American marrying a British prince. After all, "I married an American," Rylee, 71, said with a laugh.

At a pajama-and-viewing party at the Cat & Fiddle Pub in Hollywood, California, British-born actor Craig Young was happy to watch a woman from his adopted hometown join the royal family in his homeland. It was something "we never thought would happen, and which we're very excited about," said the actor, 44, who wore a bathrobe and Prince Harry mask.

For Meghan Woods, who was at the Plaza's fete in New York, the takeaway was simple.

"There are so many terrible things going on in the world that when there's something like this— love bringing people together, a reason to celebrate," she said, "why not?"

___

Dalton reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis, Alexandra Villarreal in New York and Errin Haines Whack in Burlington, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

Markle's bridal gown work of Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller

Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy is the master British designer behind the sleek silk boat-necked gown and long billowing veil worn by Meghan Markle as she walked down the nave of St. George's Chapel for her wedding to Prince Harry.

The clean lines of the white dress highlighted Markle's smiling face Saturday as she sat at the altar of the chapel, holding Harry's hand as the sprawling train lay at her feet.

"It's brave to not have decorations and embellishments. What a strong fashion statement. It's modern and classic at the same time," Phillipa Lepley, a leading London bridal designer, told The Associated Press. "The overall look is very '50s and gorgeous!"

Waight Keller, the first female artistic director of French fashion house Givenchy, met Markle earlier this year, Kensington Palace said. It said Markle wanted a dress with an "elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring, and relaxed demeanor."

The dress featured no lace or embroidery, carrying a classic boat neckline, three-quarter length sleeves and an A-line skirt with a train measuring nearly 6 feet from the waist. Markle complemented it with a tiara, an embroidered cathedral-length veil, a bracelet and a small diamond stud earrings.

"The dress is simply beautiful in its classic simplicity," said Caroline Burstein, owner of Browns Bride, a top London bridal boutique. She called it "a nod to Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and every iconic wedding we have witnessed throughout the 20th and 21st century. It's perfect for her and for the occasion they are celebrating."

The veil carried floral references to all 53 countries in the Commonwealth, the group of countries that roughly corresponds to the former British Empire and is headed by Markle's new grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II. The palace said workers spent hundreds of hours sewing the delicate flower designs into the veil, meticulously washing their hands every half hour to keep the silk tulle and threads clean.

The palace said, in addition to the Commonwealth flowers, Markle also selected two other plants: Wintersweet and, in a nod to her birthplace, the California poppy.

Markle's choice was no casual affair. Televised royal weddings like this have a massive effect on what brides everywhere want to wear and are closely watched across the fashion industry.

"There are no seams in the bodice," Lepley noted. "Incredibly clean and plain dresses such as this are very time consuming and complicated to make, because unlike a lace dress, there is no room for any errors. You can't hide any wrinkles, as the fabric has to sit perfectly."

Princess Diana's 1981 wedding gown, with its romantic details and dramatic train, defined the 1980s fairytale bridal look. More recently, when Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011, her long-sleeved lace gown immediately sparked a trend for more covered-up, traditional lace bridal dresses.

As with many royal occasions, every item of clothing was laden with history and meaning.

Markle's tiara was a diamond bandeau made for Queen Mary and specifically designed to accommodate the central brooch, given as a gift to the then-Princess Mary in the late 19th century and passed on to Elizabeth in 1953.

The forget-me-nots in the bridal bouquet were a nod to the late Princess Diana, Harry's mother — they were her favorite flower. The myrtle sprigs packed among them were drawn from a plant grown from myrtle used in Elizabeth's wedding bouquet in 1947. Other flowers were hand-picked by Harry himself from the garden in Kensington Palace.

The designer of Markle's dress was one of the wedding's most closely-guarded secrets, sparking months of speculation.

Waight Keller was a surprise choice — her name was not among the many designers slated to be possible contenders for the dress commission of the year. Educated at the Ravensbourne College of Art in south London, Keller kicked off her career at Calvin Klein in New York designing women's ready-to-wear before moving to Ralph Lauren to work on the men's "Purple Label."

After stints at Gucci, Pringle and Chloe, she was appointed as artistic director of Givenchy haute couture and women's and men's ready-to-wear last year.

Before the wedding, the top guesses from Britain's bookmakers for Markle's wedding dress designer included Erdem, founded by Canadian-born designer Erdem Moralioglu; Ralph & Russo, the couture designers that Markle chose for her engagement dress; Alexander McQueen, the label that created Kate's wedding gown; Stella McCartney; Burberry and Oscar de la Renta.

One of the guesses proved right in the second round. For the Saturday evening reception hosted by Prince Charles, the newly titled Duchess of Sussex wore a bespoke McCartney design: a white silk crepe gown with a high neck, bare shoulders and full skirt.

___

This story corrects the spelling of Ralph Lauren.

___

For complete AP royal wedding coverage, visit https://apnews.com/tag/Royalweddings

'Suits' cast reunites in England on eve of royal wedding

Meghan Markle's former “Suits” castmates had a reunion Friday night in the United Kingdom in anticipation of the royal wedding and shared some photographs on social media, Harper’s Bazaar reported.

>> Read more trending news

Patrick J. Adams and his wife, Troian Bellisario, visited the Royal Standard of England, the country’s the oldest pub, while Gabriel Macht and his wife Jacinda Barret strolled through Hyde Park.

The night before the wedding, the cast met at Barn restaurant in Sunningdale, England, to toast Markle. Adams, who plays her on-screen love interest Mike, shared a photo of the group on Instagram, calling it "The last supper #royalwedding."

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