Cannes, France (AFP) – The hefty American pitbull who wolfed down cans of tinned rat in Quentin Tarantino’s new movie “Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood” won the Palm Dog prize at the Cannes film festival Friday.

Known as Brandy, the brawny beast played a starring role as Brad Pitt’s trusty hound in the dark fairytale, which wowed critics at the world’s biggest film festival.

“At least I do not go home empty-handed,” quipped Tarantino as he picked up the silver-embossed dog collar on behalf of “my wonderful actress Brandy”.

“I have no idea if we’re going to win the Palme d’Or,” added the director, referring to the festival’s top prize, “but I do feel I was in good standing to win the Palm Dog.”

“I read a piece that said they were kind of weak on the dog section (for this year’s award) and I and was like, ‘Ha, ha, ha! Little do they know what’s coming!'” he said.

What got tails a-wagging on the jury, which judges the best canine performance every year at Cannes, was Brandy’s “memorable movie meals” in which she gulps down enormous quantities of glistening chow.

Prehistoric monster dog

Although the palm-winning pooch was not in the room, there was a celebrity “doggleganger” waiting in the wings.

“We have a stand-in for Brandy right over here,” Tarantino said, calling over a giant 47-kilo blue-grey Cane Corso called Haru.

“He’s from a prehistoric monster movie!” the director joked.

Three pooches performed on the set but Tarantino said his favourite was the dog that popped up in the film’s finale, who Tarantino said put in “a great performance”.

“The fight dog was kind of my favourite. But it wasn’t until I was editing the movie that I realised: ‘Hey she’s kind of a good actress!'”

Despite her canine charisma, Brandy will never get to sport the collar, said Tarantino, who won Cannes’ top prize 25 years ago with “Pulp Fiction”.

“I’m not going to give this to her — it’ll go on my mantelpiece,” declared the proud director, who doesn’t have a dog but said that he might get one soon.

“Absolutely, this is the first step,” he said.

Instagram’s four-legged influencers

Among the furballs filling out the aisles were a handful of Instagram influencers with tens of thousands of followers, like a dog called Malcolm, a three-year-old American Akita who has 73,000 followers.

And in the row behind, napping quietly in his carry case, was a cat with a striking half-black, half-grey face called Amazing Narnia who has an enviable following of 165,000 people.

The Palm Dog — which has been awarded at Cannes since 2001 — is the world’s best-known award for dogs on screen.

Past winners include Uggie from the Oscar-winning “The Artist” and Ken Loach for casting a three-legged dog named Shae in his Palme d’Or-winning “I, Daniel Blake” three years ago.

Loach’s latest film, “Sorry We Missed You”, which was also premiered at Cannes last week, also features a three-legged whippet.

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