An intimate lesbian love story by Abdellatif Kechiche won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the prestigious Palme d'Or on Sunday. La Vie d'Adele - Chapitre 1 & 2 (Blue is the Warmest Colour) was chosen by a jury headed by Steven Spielberg as the best movie showing in competition, despite some concerns about its length (3 hours) and content, specifically its explicit sex scenes.

According to Reuters, Spielberg said the award should be shared between Kechiche and his two lead actresses Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, such was the level of their performances in the film.  "I think it will get a lot of play ... I think this film carries a very strong message, a very positive message," Spielberg told journalists. "It was the perfect choice between those two actresses and this incredible very sensitive and observant filmmaker." Cannes director Thierry Fremaux said the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who marched in Paris this week to protest the country's legalization of same-sex marriage should go watch Blue Is The Warmest Colour. "Everyone who is against same-sex marriage or love between two people of the same sex must see the film," he said.

Tunisian-born actor Kechiche made his directorial debut in 2000. He was virtually speechless upon accepting the award, dedicating it to the youth of France and Tunisia who "wanted only to live, speak and love freely" during the Arab spring. 

Many had expected the Coen Brothers' new movie Inside Llewyn Davis - about a struggling New York musician - to win the award, though it was named as runner-up. It may fare better at the Globes and Oscars. Third prize went to the Japanese movie Soshite Chichi Ni Naru (Like Father, Like Son), while Bruce Dern, 76, won best actor for his performance in Alexander Payne's Nebraska. The Artist's Berenice Bejo won best actress for Asghar Farhadi's domestic drama Le Passe (The Past).

Lea Seydoux Adele Exarchopoulos Lea Seydoux [L] and Adele Echarchopolous [R]

Lea Seydoux [L] and Adele Echarchopolous [R]
The Stars Of 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour', Lea Seydoux [R] and Adele Echarchopolous [L]