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Cannes awards 2011

 

The Palme d'Or goes to THE TREE OF LIFE

 

After a wide-open and strong Cannes Film Festival that was thrown into disarray by Lars von Trier's controversial comments, Robert De Niro's jury has awarded the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, to Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life."

The Tree of LifeThe long-awaited, much-delayed epic dominated festival talk for the first week, until von Trier grabbed center stage at the press conference following his film.

Kirsten Dunst won the festival's Best Actress award for her performance in von Trier's "Melancholia." It was the one award for the well-reviewed film, whose chances of winning the bigger prizes were torpedoed when von Trier was banned from the festival for his comments about Hitler and the Nazis.

This marks the second consecutive time when an actresses has been awarded for putting up with the controversial Danish director. Two years ago, Charlotte Gainsbourg won the same award for "Antichrist," which was voiciferously booed at the festival.

French actor Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor award for his performance in Michel Hazavanicius' crowd-pleasing silent, black-and-white comedy "The Artist," which was picked up for distribution by the Weinstein Company.

The Dardenne brothers' "The Kid With a Bike" and Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" tied for the Grand Prix, while Mainwenn's "Polisse" won the Prix du Jury. Those are essentially the festival's second and third-place awards.

Nicolas Winding Refn won the Best Actor award for the action-packed Ryan Gosling vehicle "Drive," while Joseph Cedar won Best Screenplay for the Sony Classics pickup "Footnote."

The field also included Pedro Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In," Julia Leigh's "Sleeping Beauty," Lynne Ramsay's "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and Paolo Sorrentino's "This Must Be the Place."

In addition to De Niro, the members of the jury were actors Jude Law, Uma Thurman and Martina Gusman (an Argentinian actress/producer), "Carlos" director Olivier Assayas, Norwegian critic and writer Linn Ullman (the daughter of Liv Ullman and Ingmar Bergman), Hong Kong director Johnnie To, Chinese producer Nansun Shi and director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, from Chad.

Of the 20 films in competition, half have American release deals in place. Pedro Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In" and Joseph Cedar's "Footnote" will be released by Sony Pictures Classics; "The Tree of Life" by Fox Searchlight; "The Artist" by the Weinstein Company; "Melancholia" by Magnolia; "Drive" by FilmDistrict; and "House of Tolerance," "The Kid With a Bike," "Poliss" and "Sleeping Beauty" by Sundance Selects.

"Footnote," "The Artist" and the four Sundance Selects titles were acquired during the festival; the other deals were in place before Cannes.

The awards:

Palme d'Or: "The Tree of Life"
Grand Prix: (tie) "The Kid With a Bike" "Jean-Pierre Dardenne" and "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia"
Prix du Jury: "Polisse"
Prix de la Mise en Scene (Best Director): Nicolas Winding Refn, "Drive"
Prix du Scenario (Best Screenplay): Joseph Cedar, "Footnote"
Camera d'Or (Best First Feature): "Las Acacias"
Prix d'interpretation masculine (Best Actor): Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Prix d'interpretation feminine (Best Actress): Kirsten Dunst, "Melancholia"
Palme d'Or (short film): "Cross Country"

 

CANNES, France (AFP May 22, 2011)1745 GMT: They are coming thick and fast now. Best Screenplay? It goes to Israeli film-maker Joseph Cedar for "Footnote" about the rivalry between a father-son pair of Talmudic scholars.

Cedar, 42, who won an Oscar nomination for his 2007 film "Beaufort" about the Israeli army's withdrawal from southern Lebanon, is not in town to accept the prize today.

1740 GMT: AND IT'S KIRSTEN DUNST - the US actress being honoured for her portrayal of a depressed woman at the end of the world in Lars von Trier's 'Melancholia'.

Von Trier is obviously not in the auditorium to see this, following the controversy over his earlier press conference jokes about Hitler.

1735 GMT: Now the best actress award...

1730 GMT: POLISSE, a gritty film from French actress-director Maiwenn about a tightly-bound but highly-strung child protection unit in Paris, gets the special Jury Prize.

"I promised my daughter not to cry when I received the prize," a tearful Maiwenn says, appearing a little out of breath and very emotional, as she invites the cast and producer on stage.

In the auditorium, it's a popular award.

1726 GMT: De Niro starts off in French, telling the audience it was a "grande et belle experience". "Nous avons essaye le best we could," he adds, his sortie into French tailing off.

1725 GMT: Jury President Robert De Niro arrives on the stage and presents the jury, one by one. Cue standing ovation from the auditorium, with Uma Thurman and Jude Law winning most applause.

Do they know when to applaud, these guys?

1720 GMT: And the first award - and it goes to Maryna Vroda for her short: Cross Country.

1715 GMT: THE CEREMONY BEGINS.

1714 GMT: Meanwhile, some more directors have arrived. They include Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Maiwenn who I mentioned before ("Poliss") and Nicolas Winding Refn ("Drive").

Not seen of course was Lars Von Trier ("Melancholia"), famously declared persona non grata, and Terrence Malick ("The Tree of Life"), famously enigmatic.

1712 GMT: One of those who is not here - I am told - is Tilda Swinton, nominated for her amazing performance in "We need to talk about Kevin". What does she know?

1710 GMT: Inside the auditorium, the lucky invitees to the closing ceremony are milling around. A giant screen has been set up to keep them up to date, showing the latest arrivals, who include Kirsten Dunst, among others.

1659 GMT: And after them, the Dardenne brothers arrive, accompanied by the Belgian actress Cecile de France, and the young star Thomas Doret, mounting the steps on the red carpet.

1649 GMT: Also arrived now is Maiwenn whose first film Poliss was much talked about here.

Right now she is mingling merrily with the crowd of onlookers, signing authographs, resplendid in a scarlet red off-the-shoulder gown

1646 GMT: The jury has arrived, led by a bleary-eyed Robert De Niro.

"I think we did the best that we could do," said the jury president on the way into the awards ceremony. "It's difficult when there are so many choices... We had to think our way through them."

1645 GMT: One of those who has arrived: Belgian filmmaker Luc Dardenne arrived with his brother Jean-Pierre and the stars of their film, "The Kid on a Bike".

He said he got a call this morning asking them to travel pronto to Cannes -- usually a sign that a prize is imminent.

1643 GMT: There's a big crowd out on a warm summer-like evening in front of the Palais, where rumours have been swirling all day.

One of the questions is the suspense surrounding Terrence Malick, the enigmatic director of "The Tree of Life". He's a very publicity-shy gentleman. Win or lose, will he turn up tonight?

1635 GMT: At the moment, the stars are starting to arrive, with a little more than half an hour to go before the Gala gets under way. It is just past 6.30 in the evening here, and the ceremonies begin at 7.15 p.m.

WELCOME TO CANNES, and AFP's live report on the final night of the film festival. The awards ceremony starts in less than an hour, with no clear favourite to win the top prize - the Palme d'Or.

With perhaps five or six films still thought in with a chance, the fancied films include the much-anticipated latest work of enigmatic US director Terrence Malick, a coming-of-age tale "The Tree of Life" starring, for the first time together, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.

But Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are also hoping for a record third Palme d'Or for "The Kid With a Bike," an uplifting portrait of an abandoned 11-year-old boy and the woman bent on saving him.

And still in the running, despite a furore over provocative remarks about Hitler, is Danish contender Lars von Trier's apocalyptic psychodrama "Melancholia".

All told, an interesting evening awaits for film lovers. Stay with us as the ceremony gets under way in a while.

The Tree of Life

 

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