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Kodi, Canine Star of ‘Dog on Trial,’ Wins Cannes Palm Dog Honor

Kodi, the canine defendant in Laetitia Dosch’s Dog on Trial, was named top dog at the Cannes Film Festival, snatching the Palm Dog prize for the best canine performance.

In a rare treat, Kodi, a 9-year-old Griffon, attended the event, a boozy and chaotic affair, as is the Palm Dog tradition, at the Plage du Festival in Cannes on Friday. He even gave a demonstration of his howling performance from the film, something the director said he had to be trained to do, not being a natural howler in real life.

In Dog on Trial, Kodi plays Cosmos, the four-legged companion of a visually impaired man (François Damiens) who, after a biting incident, finds himself at the center of an absurd trial to decide whether he will be put down. Avril (Laetitia Dosch), a lawyer accustomed to lost causes, decides to represent Cosmos.

Dosch said she insisted on having Kodi credited as “an actor” on the film credits and the poster for Dog on Trial. She thanked Palm Dog founder Toby Rose for helping to bring attention and recognition to non-human performers on screen.

Started by Rose on a lark more than 20 years ago, the Palm Dog has long since gone mainstream, with a guest list, an open bar and corporate sponsorship, in the form of French puppy platform Woopets. This year’s award ceremony was packed with international media and paparazzi, as well as plenty of four-footed companions. Even the prize, a red dog collar, was tres chic, designed by French brand Oria & Guizmo.

Award campaigners have also discovered the power of the Palm Dog. Neon capitalized on the success of last year’s Palm Dog winner, Messi from Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall, putting the border collie at the center of its Academy Awards campaign. He famously made it all the way to the Oscars, applauding Robert Downey Jr. as he took the stage to accept his best supporting actor prize. Messi made a triumphant return to Cannes this year, lapping up the attention as he walked the red carpet for the opening night film.

Other tail-wagging winners this year included Cosmos, the titular pooch from Guan Hu’s Black Dog, which took the jury grand prize. Eddie Peng, who plays Lang in the film, an ex-convict tasked with ridding his hometown of stray dogs, revealed he adopted the whippet after the shoot.

The dogs in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinds of Kindness — in a scene in the film Liz, played by Emma Stone, recounts a dream she had of an island were dogs were in charge and people were the animals — received an ensemble prize. Dave, the mutt from Andrea Arnold’s Bird, also picked up a supporting pup prize.

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