Following in the traditions of both the Berlinale and Venice International Film Festival, the very first Queer Palm will be handed out at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Though in its first year, the award isn't yet an "official" prize... but it will be given to any film screening across the panels (the Official selection, Un Certain Regard, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, Semaine de la Critique). The Teddy Award in Berlin has been around since 1987, formed by German filmmakers Wieland Speck and Manfred Salzgeber; the first Teddy's were given to Pedro Almodóvar's Law of Desire [La ley del deseo] in the feature category and Gus Van Sant's Five Ways to Kill Yourself and My New Friend in the shorts section. The Queer Lion of the Venice Film Festival has only been around for three years, with the first prize going to Edward Radtke's The Speed of Life in 2007; Tom Ford's A Single Man won last year. "Fathered" by directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (Jeanne et le garçon formidable, Crustacés et coquillages), the Queer Palm will be announced at a ceremony on the 22nd. For more information, here's an interview with the organizer, Franck Finance-Madureira, with English subtitles. Ducastel and Martineau won a Teddy Jury Award in 2000 for The Adventures of Félix [Drôle de Félix].
Unfortunately, the official Queer Palm site doesn't mention which titles are eligible for the award, but with three notable queer cinéastes presenting their latest films this year, I'd imagine they'll have their pick of Gregg Araki's Kaboom! (which played out of competition at a midnight screening), Xavier Dolan's Heartbeats [Les amours imaginaires] (which has gotten a lot of great feedback and was just acquired by IFC Films) and (possibly) Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (which hasn't screened yet and may not be as queer as, say, Tropical Malady). I suppose there's a possibility in Cam Archer's Shit Year (like Weerasethakul's, it may lack the queerness of the director's previous Wild Tigers I Have Known), but gauging a film's queerness is a challenge (for those reading synopses and reviews just as much, I'd imagine, as those who've actually seen the films).
Looking at the Semaine de la Critique line-up today, I just now noticed that another (queer) short directed by James Franco, The Clerk's Tale, will be closing the Court-Métrange section of the Semaine (along with a short directed by Kirsten Dunst called Bastard, with Juno Temple, Brian Geraghty, Lukas Haas, Lee Thompson Young and L.M. Kit Carson). A little over a year after acting in a Gus Van Sant film (Milk, of course), Franco seems to be carrying on the queer cinema torch. Another short he directed called Feast of Stephen, about a teenage boy's black-and-white fantasies, took home the Teddy for Short Film earlier this year; Franco also played that homo Allen Ginsberg in Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Howl, also part of the 2010 Berlinale. If no other Queer Palm information surfaces in the next few days, you'll hear back from me when the jury hands out their prize. Until then, check out the charming, smutty interview BUTT magazine conducted with Dolan back in April.