Michael Haneke has won the Palme d’Or for his acclaimed The White Ribbon (review by Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian). The film, described by IFC’s The Daily as “a two-and-a-half hour parable of political and social ideas set entirely in a north German village in 1913 and 1914”, marks the first Palme d’Or win for Haneke following a number of other awards successes for the German provocateur at the festival. He has in the past won prizes for Hidden, The Piano Teacher and Code Unknown, but this is his first win of the top prize.
Alain Resnais, an outside member of the Nouvelle Vague and creator of the time-warping masterpieces Last Year in Marienbad and Hiroshima, Mon Amour, was given the Special Jury Prize in honour of his Wild Grass (review by Daniel Kasman at The Auteur’s Notebook). The Grand Prix was given to Jacques Audiard’s The Prophet (review by Anthony Kaufman at indieWIRE). The director prize went to Brillante Mendoza for his violent drama Kinatay, already torn a new one by Roger Ebert. The eminent Chicago Sun-Times voice essentially opens his review with an apology to Vincent Gallo over his past assertion that The Brown Bunny was the worst film in the history of the festival.
Ebert goes on to say:
“After extensive recutting, the Gallo film was redeemed. I don’t think editing is going to do the trick for “Kinatay.” If Mendoza wants to please any viewer except for the most tortured theorist (one of those careerists who thinks movies are about arcane academic debates and not people) he’s going to have to remake his entire second half.”
Onwards with Cannes however, The Prix de Scenario for Best Screenplay was given to Feng Mei for the Lou Ye-directed Spring Fever (review by Sukhdev Sandhu at The Telegraph). That has itself been surrounded by controversy over the decision by Ye to screen the film in Cannes without the approval of the Chinese government.
The Camera d’Or for Best First Feature was given to Australian Warwick Thornton for Samson and Delilah (interview here and review, by The Telegraph’s Sandu, which indicates the love to have come for this film), his indigenous realist drama.
Very nicely, the Prix du Jury was given to Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank (review by The Guardian’s Bradshaw) and Park Chan-wook’s horror film Thirst (review by Twitch’s Todd Brown). Arnold, whose outstanding Red Road won the Jury Prize in 2006, had been tipped for a possible Palme d’Or this time round but will instead have to settle for outstanding reviews yet again.
The acting honours provide the most curious choices. Tarantino’s lukewarmly received Inglourious Basterds (review by Spout’s Karina Longworth) saw Christoph Waltz take home the Best Actor Prize while Charlotte Gainsbourg won Best Actress for her performance in Lars von Trier’s hugely controversial Antichrist.
Probably the most notably absentees from the possible prize winners are Jane Campion’s Bright Star, her story of the love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawn, and Ken Loach’s fondly-tipped Looking for Eric. Bright Star was another beloved by critics in the UK while Looking for Eric didn’t quite live up to all expectations but was mostly liked too. Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, his follow-up to the equally loathed and admired Irreversible, seemed to spark little in the way of notice for those attending the festival, but did at least bring some searching analysis from those who did take notice.
Antichrist, in short, follows the story of a couple, hit hard by the death of their child, who retreat to a cabin in the woods in which a great deal of trippy/disturbing occurences befall them.
The film has been a divider at the festival, drawing completely differing viewpoints critics, primarily shocked rather than negative, and even prompted the hyperbole-addicted Jeff Wells to proclaim this a “career embarrassment” for all involved.
Whether it is or not, this kind of film will generate publicity and curiosity. People, myself included, will be anxious to understand the kind of divisive choices Von Trier, a consciously-provocative filmmakers in even his calmest moments, has made to elicit such intense opinion from those to have seen the movie.
The line-up for the Cannes Film Festival has been announced with a number of interesting projects set to bow in and out of competiton.
As all will already know, Pixar’s Up is opening the festival, the first animated and first 3D film to do so. The other most notable entry is The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, the Terry Gilliam-directed movie already set in infamy for being what Heath Ledger was working on when he died.
In competition, Quentin Tarantino comes with Inglourious Basterds, unlikely to repeat the Palme D’or-winning success of Pulp Fiction, while other past winners include The Piano’s Jane Campion with Bright Star and Ken Loach with his Looking for Eric. Loach won a couple of year’s ago for the excellent The Wind that Shakes the Barley and is presently among the favourites to take the top prize this year.
Also involved in competition is Michael Haneke with The White Ribbon, Irreversible’s Gaspar Noe with Enter the Void, Lars von Trier with his creepy-looking Antichrist, Johnnie To with Vengeance, Ang Lee with Taking Woodstock, Red Road’s Andrea Arnold with Fish Tank and Pedro Almodovar with Broken Embraces.
Also notable is the midnight screening of Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell and the return of Alejandro Amenabar with the phenomenal-looking Agora.
Could be a mighty interesting competition this year, especially given the tendency in the past few years for the festival to pick out surprise winners so it’s quite possible that all the films above won’t be in with a shout when it comes down to it.