An audacious lesbian love story featuring hardcore sex by French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche has won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
An all-star jury at cinema's top showcase led this year by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg crowned the graphically erotic coming-of-age story, Blue is the Warmest Colour, which is set in France and clocks in at an epic three hours.
In an unusual step, Spielberg awarded the prize to Kechiche and the film's two stars, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, who joined him on stage on Sunday to cheers and calls of "bravo" from the ceremony's audience.
"I should like to dedicate this film to the wonderful youth of France whom I met during the long period while making this film," he said.
"Those young people taught me a lot about the spirit of freedom and living together."
The Tunis-born Kechiche, 52, also hailed the spirit of the Arab Spring as he claimed his gong.
"I would also like to dedicate this film to other youth, something which happened not so very long ago, the revolution in Tunisia," he said.
"They also have this aspiration to live free, to express themselves freely and to love in full freedom."
The runner-up award, the Grand Prix, went to Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis starring Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and newcomer Oscar Isaac in the title role, which delighted audiences with a mix of soulful 1960s folk singing and absurdist humour.
The Coens' film Barton Fink won Cannes in 1991 and the brothers last entered the running in 2007 with No Country for Old Men.
Mexico's Amat Escalante won the best director prize for the ultra-violent Heli about his country's blood-drenched drug wars.
The 34-year-old filmmaker showed a family trapped in a vicious circle of crime and revenge, with torture scenes that left some queasy viewers running for the exits.
French actress Berenice Bejo claimed best actress for her role as a harried Parisian mother in Iranian Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi's patchwork family drama The Past.
Bejo, who made her name in the hit French silent movie The Artist, plays a wife who asks her estranged husband to return from Iran to finalise their divorce.
One of the stars of Hollywood's 1970s golden age, Bruce Dern, took the best actor prize for his performance in Alexander Payne's Nebraska.
In the recession-era road movie, the 76-year-old Dern plays an alcoholic father who believes he has won a million-dollar sweepstake.
China's Jia Zhangke won the best screenplay prize for A Touch of Sin, which offered a shocking look at rampant corruption in his country and exploitation of downtrodden citizens.
Blue emerged as a favourite for the prize immediately after its premiere.
It traces lead character Adele's infatuation with a beautiful blue-haired art student played by rising star Lea Seydoux, while also exploring themes such as class in France and women's careers.
"Sure to raise eyebrows with its show-stopping scenes of non-simulated female copulation, the film is actually much more than that: it's a passionate, poignantly handled love story," a Hollywood Reporter critic said.
All the Cannes winners: