Despite dividing critics, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou have been awarded best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival for their thriller The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

This was Lanthimos’ third film to premiere at the prestigious event in the south of France, and in his acceptance speech thanked the festival’s jury “for this beautiful present”.

Starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, the film inspired by Euripides’ Iphigenia is a dark tale which unfolds after a heart surgeon operates on a man while drunk and kills him.

In a bid to gain revenge, years later the victim’s teenage seeks out the surgeon and insists he choose a member of his family to kill or they will all suffer an excruciating death.

The 44-year-old Greek director is known for launching the ‘weird-wave’ genre during Greece’s economic crisis.

“We just did whatever the hell came into our heads,” said Lanthimos in an interview about his early years as a director in Athens.

“A few friends, very little money. We just kept on making what we felt we wanted to make.”

But the limitations haven’t held him back in the slightest. Among his many accolades are the Un Certain Regard prize for Dogtooth at Cannes in 2009, Best Screenplay for Alps in Venice in 2011 and Best Film at the Sydney awards in 2012. While The Lobster secured an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2017.

Lanthimos jointly shares the award for Best Screenplay with Scottish director Lynne Ramsay for her film You Were Never Really Here.