Outsiders, underdogs capture Cannes' top prizes

A BRACING Romanian drama captured Cannes' top prize late Sunday, capping a year in which underdog directors with introspective films bested the biggest names in cinema. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days won the Palme d'Or at the star-studded 60th...

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Published: Tue 29 May 2007, 10:59 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:47 PM

canesedition of the world's premiere filmfest, beating out previous Palme winners, the Coen brothers, Gus Van Sant, Quentin Tarantino and Serbian director Emir Kusturica.

"This is the ultimate recognition that you are really a filmmaker," Cristian Mungiu, 39, told reporters after a glittering awards ceremony where he accepted the golden trophy from veteran Hollywood actress Jane Fonda.

His small-budget film, his second feature, evokes big themes of personal freedom and alienation in a wrenching story about a girl's back-alley abortion in communist-era Romania.

It was an early favourite at the 12-day festival.

Cannes' artistic director Thierry Fremaux, who chose the 22 films in competition, said the jury favoured the cutting edge of contemporary filmmaking.

"The winners reflect our intention when selecting the films to look to the future," he told AFP. "By rewarding Romania, Mexico and South Korea, the jury highlighted three of the most stimulating countries in international cinema in recent years."

ca1The runner-up Grand Prix trophy went to The Mourning Forest, a slow-moving spiritual tale of two grief-stricken people by Japanese director Naomi Kawase, who turns 38 on Wednesday.

Kawase, who won the Camera d'Or at Cannes for best first film 10 years ago, fought back tears as she clutched the prize.

"In life there are many difficulties, many things that make you suffer and hesitate along the way," she said.

"At such moments, one finds strength not in money, cars or clothing but in something intangible ... people who came before us and who give us their strength. When you find this support you can continue to move ahead alone "

Her picture beat fare from top directors including Joel and Ethan Coen, with an existential cowboy film called No Country for Old Men, Van Sant, who returned to teenage blues in Paranoid Park, Tarantino, with an ode to trashy drive-in movies in Death Proof, and Kusturica's Balkan romp Promise Me This.

ca2Third placed Jury Prize was shared by Persepolis, French-Iranian debut director Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical animation on life under the ayatollahs which has angered Tehran, and Silent Light, a Mexican movie about love, death and faith, by Carlos Reygadas.

Julian Schnabel, the accomplished US painter and sculptor, picked up Best Director for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, about a French magazine editor who managed to write a book after suffering a debilitating stroke.

"In my wildest dreams I would never believe I was here because basically I'm just a movie fan - I never thought I was going to be a movie director," he said.

For the acting prizes, the jury also skipped stars such as Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, Jude Law in Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's romance My Blueberry Nights, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr in serial killer flick Zodiac and Fassbinder-muse Hanna Schygulla in German-Turkish director Fatih Akin's moving drama The Edge of Heaven. Instead Best Actor went to Konstantin Lavronenko, the lead of a bleak Russian look at broken families, The Banishment, while South Korea's Jeon Do-yeon, playing a grief-struck woman wrestling with tragedy and faith in Secret Sunshine, picked up Best Actress.

"There are many fabulous actresses here at the festival and I would like to represent them all here tonight. It is a great honour for me to have this prize," said 34-year-old Jeon.

ca3Best Script went to Akin's The Edge of Heaven, about loss and forgiveness across an East-West divide.

And a special prize for the filmfest's 60th went to Van Sant, who won the Palme four years ago for Elephant.

The Cannes jury this year was headed by British director Stephen Frears, and included actresses Maggie Cheung of Hong Kong, Toni Colette of Australia, and Turkey's Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk.

They - and many of the 15,000 festival-goers - sat through a programme dominated by dark themes.

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