Uma Thurman, Abdellatif Kechiche, Léa Seydoux and Adéle Exarchopoulos at the Cannes Film Festival. Photo: AFP

Abdellatif Kechiche won the top prize, the Palme d'Or, for Blue Is The Warmest Color (La Vie d'Adele) as the 2013 Cannes Film Festival came to a close in France tonight. The jury took the rare step of presenting the award to Kechiche along with the standout actresses Adéle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux tonight. All three stood on stage together showing smiles and tears as they held their white scrolls tied with a red ribbon.

The provocative and sexually explicit new French film was the sensation of the competition among many film critics here in Cannes. It drew a huge ovation from the crowd when jury president Steven Spielberg announced that the jury had decided that Kechiche, Exarchopoulos and Seydoux would share the event's highest honor. 

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, directors of Inside Llewyn Davis, were runners-up as the 66th Cannes Film Festival concluded, winning the Grand Prix. They were awarded the second prize honor from the festival's jury, which was lead this year by Steven Spielberg and included filmmakers Naomi Kawase, Ang Lee, Lynne Ramsay and Christian Mungiu, as well as actors Daniel Auteuil, Vidya Balan, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz.

The Jury Prize, a second runner-up award here in Cannes, went to the Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda for his tender family drama, Like Father, Like Son.

Proclaiming the prizes, “A pledge for different ways of understanding cinema,” Spielberg presided over the Sunday night awards as is tradition for Jury Presidents.

“We on the jury feel that we have been taken around the work in [these] films,” Spielberg said before unveiling the winners, “More than anything else we have found such deep respect for the way these artists dedicated their souls to such words, images and raw feelings.”

The award for Kechiche's film, the story of a relationship between two young French women, is already being viewed as a reaction to recent persistent Parisian protests against the passage of gay marriage in this country. More than 150,000 people demonstrated against same sex marriage in the French Capital today, prompting journalists to question the jury's motivation during a festival that featured a number of queer-themed films.

Juror Daniel Auteuil, an acclaimed French actor, pushed back on the notion when asked about the Parisian protests tonight after the ceremony. 

“The film said something different to me,” Auteuil explained, “The film conveyed a very normal situation, feelings in fact.”

Juror Christian Munigu, winner of the Palme d'Or for his film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, underscored Auteil's response.

“We were trying to give an award for cinema, not for the stories or for any sort of political statement,” Mungiu told journalist backstage after the awards ceremony, “We saw a lot of truth there.”

The Cannes jurors were clearly quite moved by a another film that stirred up a lot of controversy at this year's festival.

Amat Escalante's Heli, which depicts a number of violent on screen moments in its exploration of modern day Mexican life, won the best director prize. It was the second year in a row that a Mexican filmmaker has won the directing award in Cannes. Last year's directing prize went to Escalante's frequent collaborator, Carlos Reygadas for his latest film, Post Tenebras Lux.

Jia Zhang-ke won the best screenplay prize for his new film, A Touch of Sin, which looks at violence in his home country of China, while the festival's acting awards went to a pair of family dramas. Berenice Bejo won the best actress award for her role in Asghar Farhadi's The Past and Bruce Dern for his performance in Alexander Payne's Nebraska.

The Camera 'Or, an award from a separte jury that honors the best first time feature film, went to Ilo Ilo directed by Anthony Chen. He said that tonight marked the first time a feature film from Singapore has won any sort of award in Cannes

Starting the ceremony this evening in the Palais des Festivals, Steven Spielberg told the audience, “We listened to our hearts and listened for which piece of art produced an echo.

Later, at a post ceremony press conference, the jury was asked if there were any films that they were unable to honor tonight. Jury President Spielberg declined to answer the question but deferred to Christian Mungiu.

“We didn't get the feeling that we missed something essential,” Mungiu told the press.

Full list of winners

Palme d'Or
La Vie D'Adele (Blue Is The Warmest Color), directed by Abdellatif Kechiche

Best Director
Amat Escalante, Heli

Grand Prix
Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

Best Screenplay
Jia Zhang-ke, A Touch of Sin

Camera d'Or for Best First Feature
Ilo Ilo, directed by Anthony Chen

Jury prize
Like Father, Like Son, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda

Best Actress
Berenice Bejo, The Past (Le Passé)

Best Actor
Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Palme d'Or for Short Film: Safe, directed by Moon Byoung-Gon

Prix Un Certain Regard
The Missing Picture (L’Image Manquante), directed by Rithy Panh

Prix du Jury, Un Certain Regard
Omar, directed by Hany Abu-Assad

Prix de la Mise en Scene, Un Certain Regard (Best Director)
Alain Guiraudie, Stranger By The Lake (L'Inconnu du Lac)

Prix Un Certain Talent
Ensemble of actors from
The Golden Cage, directed by Diego Quemada-Diez

Prix de L'Avenir
Fruitvale Station, directed by Ryan Coogler

Directors’ Fortnight Prize
The Selfish Giant, directed Clio Barnard

International Critics’ Week Prize
The Lunchbox, directed by Ritesh Batra

Eugene Hernandez is the Director of Digital Strategy at the Film Society of Lincoln Center (@filmlinc). Follow him on Twitter at @eug. Get the latest daily FilmLinc coverage from Cannes in our special section.