Austrian director/writer Michael Haneke's black and white drama, THE WHITE RIBBON (Das Weisse Band) received the top prize Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival (CFF), taking home the coveted Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) for Best Feature Film. In a pre-WW I German village a series of crimes terrorizes its ultra-conservative residents. The brutality portends the Nazi era in pre-WW II Germany. Anyone get a whiff of a possible Oscar®?
The main Jury responsible for selecting the winners was headed by French Actress Isabelle Huppert. She was named best actress at the 2001 Festival for her role in Haneke's THE PIANO TEACHER. A Special Prize for lifetime achievement was awarded to French Filmmaker Alain Resnais at the screening of his latest, WILD GRASS (Les Herbes Folles).
French director Jacques Audiard's prison drama, A PROPHET (Un Prophéte), received the second place Grand Prize. The Festival's Jury Prize, the third-place award, was shared by FISH TANK (British director Andrea Arnold's teen drama) and THIRST (South Korean Park Chan-wook's vampire romance).
It was a big night for Austrian film, with Christopher Waltz as a "Jew hunter" in Nazi Germany, named as best actor for Quentin Tarantino's World War II epic INGLOURIOUS BASTARDS, starring Brad Pitt. Uh oh - WW II, Germany, Nazis - anyone get another whiff of a possible Oscar®?
Also, fellow Austrian Charlotte Gainsbourg won the best-actress honor for her role in ANTICHRIST, directed by Lars Von Trier. The last film riled and repelled many Cannes viewers with its explicit images of physical abuse involving a grieving couple (Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe).
Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza received the award as Best Director for KINATAY. It concerns police inflicting bodily harm as retribution against uncooperative prostitutes.
Hong Kong screenwriter Feng Meiu garnered the Best Screenplay award for SPRNG FEVER (Hong Kong), directed by Lou Ye. It is a tale of forbidden romance involving homosexual relationships. First-time director Warwick Thornton was awarded a Camera d'Or (Golden Camera) in that category for his first feature, SAMSON AND DELIAH (Australia).
ARENA (Portugal), directed by João Salaviza, took home the Best Short Film Palme d'Or. THE SIX DOLLAR FIFTY MAN directed by Louis Sutherland received the Short Film Special Distinction award.
COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY, directed by Dutch-born Jan Kounen, closed the festival. It stars Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen, and is based on Chris Greenhalgh's novel. The novel weaves fact and fiction as does the film set in the 1920s, which is a lush portrayal of a brief affair between Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and fashion pioneer Coco Chanel.
2009 Films In Competition (20):
* À L'ORIGINE (IN THE BEGINNING) directed by Xavier GIANNOLI
* ANTICHRIST directed by Lars VON TRIER
* BAK-JWI (THIRST) directed by PARK Chan-Wook
* BRIGHT STAR directed by Jane CAMPION
* CHUN FENG CHEN ZUI DE YE WAN (Spring Fever) directed by LOU Ye
* DAS WEISSE BAND (THE WHITE RIBBON) directed by Michael HANEKE
* ENTER THE VOID directed by Gaspar NOÉ
* FISH TANK directed by Andrea ARNOLD
* INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS directed by Quentin TARANTINO
* KINATAY directed by Brillante MENDOZA
* LES HERBES FOLLES (WILD GRASS) directed by Alain RESNAIS
* LOOKING FOR ERIC directed by Ken LOACH
* LOS ABRAZOS ROTOS (BROKEN EMBRACES) directed by Pedro ALMODÓVAR
* MAP OF THE SOUNDS OF TOKYO directed by Isabel COIXET
* TAKING WOODSTOCK directed by Ang LEE
* THE TIME THAT REMAINS directed by Elia SULEIMAN
* UN PROPHÈTE (A PROPHET) directed by Jacques AUDIARD
* VENGEANCE directed by Johnnie TO
* VINCERE directed by Marco BELLOCCHIO
* VISAGE (FACE) directed by TSAI Ming-Liang
To access links for individual films and directors, go here.