The award adds to a successful run at the French cinema showcase for Asian films after Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda clinched the prestigious honour last year.
The US actor, 72, rocketed to fame in 1976 with his Oscar-winning boxing movie "Rocky" and went on to become one of Hollywood's biggest action stars through the "Rocky" and "Rambo" and film franchises.
Actors and filmmakers participating in this year's Cannes film festival have joined activists in warning that while industry attitudes were changing towards gender equality, progress was still slow.
The protest comes as a battle continues to legalize abortions in Argentina, where terminations are currently only permitted in cases of rape, or if the mother's health is at risk.
Director Mati Diop, whose debut feature film “Atlantics”, set in Senegal, evokes the impact of migrant journeys on those left behind, said she was also driven by a desire to see black lives represented on screen.
John could not hide his joy at the reception, hugging the cast and his longtime lyricist and friend Bernie Taupin, who is a major character the film.
Netflix films will be conspicuously absent from Cannes, with the online streaming and media group at odds with the festival over its rules requiring productions to be shown in French cinemas.
The Cannes Film Festival, which will run from May 14 to May 25 in Paris will kick off with "Broken Flowers" director Jim Jarmusch's latest film, "The Dead Don't Die".
Its non-English television debut is an Italian-language adaptation of a popular series of novels by Elena Ferrante.
The award, to a director who has won prizes at the festival before, defied speculation that the Palme might go to a female director, with three strong contenders in a year when the Hollywood sex scandal was the talk of the town.
The golden couple of Spanish cinema will open this year's Cannes film festival together, where Javier Bardem memorably declared his love for Penelope Cruz in 2010.
In the 70th Cannes festival, the nine-member jury awarded the trophy to the movie's director, Ruben Ostlund.
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