Van Sant, Romanian Drama, Joy Division Pic Nab Cannes Honors

Gus Van Sant, a Romanian abortion drama, and a biopic about the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis led awardees in the South of France as the 60th Cannes Film Festival came to a close last weekend.

Despite competing in a field packed with veteran (and many American) directors, Romania's Cristian Mungiu nabbed the Palme d'Or for his film "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days." The abortion drama, Mungiu's second feature length film, had played early in the festival and built strong critical support and word of mouth; it currently has five reviews tallied, all positive.

Awards in the main Competition were decided by this year's jury, led by director Stephen Frears, including Maggie Cheung, Toni Collette, Maria de Medeiros, Sarah Polley, Michel Piccoli, Marco Bellocchio, Abderrahmane Sissako and Orhan Pamuk. The jury's selection of "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days" for the festival's top prize came after days of speculation that the honor could also go to fellow frontrunners like the Coen Brothers' riveting neo-Western "No Country For Old Men" or Julian Schnabel's paralysis drama, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."

Gus Van Sant ("My Own Private Idaho," "Good Will Hunting") received the one time 60th Anniversary Award for his "Paranoid Park," a drama about a teen who accidentally kills a security guard. The film, also playing in Competition with films from Wong Kar Wai, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, and the Coen Brothers, among others, garnered mostly positive reviews but was far from unanimously loved by critics.

The award for Best Director went to Julian Schnabel ("Basquiat") for the widely liked "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," a film based on the experience of a man who, paralyzed by a stroke, used his left eye to blink out his memoirs. Miramax bought the French film during the festival for a reported $3 million.

The festival's only tie occurred as the Jury Prize went to both Marjane Satrapi's black and white animated drama "Persepolis" and Carlos Reygadas' Mexican Mennonite temptation pic "Silent Light." "Persepolis," based on director Satrapi's own graphic novel memoirs of life as a young girl in Iran, garnered raves from many at the festival and currently has five unanimous positive reviews. With voice acting by Catherine Deneuve and her daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, "Persepolis" will be released by Sony Pictures Classics.


"Persepolis"

In the Director's Fortnight sidebar competition, Anton Corbijn's "Control" nabbed three awards: the CICAE Art & Essai prize for best film, the Young Eyes Prize for best first or second-time director and the Label Europa Cinema Prize for best European film. The black and white rock biopic, about the tragic life and death of Ian Curtis, lead singer of the post-punk band Joy Division, is an impressive directorial debut for acclaimed photographer and music video director Corbijn (and features a breakout central performance by actor Sam Riley). The Weinstein Co. won rights to the film late last week.


"Control"



Additional honorees:


Grand Prize: Naomi Kawase, "The Mourning Forest"

Best Screenplay: Fatih Akin, "The Edge of Heaven"

Best Leading Actor: Konstantin Lavronenko, "The Banishment"

Best Leading Actress: Jeon Do-yeon, "Secret Sunshine"

Camera d'or: Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen , "Meduzot (Jellyfish)" [In Critic's Week]
Special mention, Anton Corbijn's "Control" [In Director's Fortnight]

Director's Fortnight:
Young Eyes Prize (for first or second feature length film): Anton Corbijn, "Control"
Label Europa Cinema Prize (best European film): Anton Corbijn, "Control"
Prix Art et Essai: Lenny Abrahamson, "Garage"

International Critics' Week Grand Prize: Lucia Puenzo, "XXY"

International Critics' Week Prize (FIPRESCI): Cristian Mungiu, "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days"
Honorable mention: Eran Kolirin, "The Band's Visit"

Un Certain Regard: Cristian Nemescu, "California Dreamin'"
Special Jury Prize: Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, "Actresses"
Prix Coup de Coeur: Eran Kolirin, "The Band's Visit"

Career Achievement Palme d'Or: Jane Fonda

Comments

TitusCosminus

Cosmin Iacoban

[b]Romania rules![/b]
I have lived in Romania for most of my childhood, I came to the United States about three years ago and I must say I'm downright happy about the Palme D'Or. Finally after all these years Romanian cinema gets its recognition. Unfortunately Romania is among the most underappreciated countries in the world mainly because it was oppresed by a comunist dictator for 40 years. We weren't even part of the Soviet Union as many believe. The dictator Ceausescu actually had problems with Moscow, we never did they're bidding. Yet we were Comunist and now we have to suffer the hardships of a transitional economy. Google some positive facts about Romania, you will be suprised about how much it impact the world. Yes drifted off course a bit, yet nothing's better than a little more internationall trivia.

May 29 - 03:49 PM

Metafact

Jane Holt

Congratulations to all the winners. I'm definitely looking forward to a few of them, including Paranoid Park, No Country for Old Men, Secret Sunshine, and of course the Romanian Palme d'Or recipient.

May 29 - 05:38 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

No Country For Old Men is pretty awesome, I think Coen Bros. fans will especially welcome the return to form. Plus it's gonna be a huge boost for both Josh Brolin (first role: Goonies) and Javier Bardem.

May 29 - 07:35 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

No Country For Old Men is pretty awesome, I think Coen Bros. fans will especially welcome the return to form. Plus it's gonna be a huge boost for both Josh Brolin (first role: Goonies) and Javier Bardem.

May 29 - 07:35 PM

Cole Smithey

Cole Smithey

[b]Cannes 2007: From the Wrong Side Up By Cole Smithe[/b]
Cannes 2007: From the Wrong Side Up
By Cole Smithey

(CANNES, FRANCE) Coming on the heels of the French elections that voted in conservative nominee Nicolas Sarkosy, the Cannes Film Festival kicked off with a whimper rather than the expected bang of its 60th anniversary. On its second day, festival staff were still moving stacks of building materials around the undecorated Palais du Festival, where most of the screenings take place. There were fewer flat-panel monitors than usual displaying the 24/7 Cannes Television coverage of red carpet entrances and endless interviews and press conferences with directors and actors from the farthest reaches of world cinema. It wasn't so much that the film selection this year was inferior to any other year-some would say it was better, but rather that morale seemed low. Still, the French Rivera beaches promised to soak up whatever blues the gloomiest minds could harbor.

British director Stephen Frears' gracious presence as head of the Palme d'Or jury quietly underscored the fact that there were no British films in competition at a time when the significant BBC Films announced that it is being absorbed into the umbrella of BBC Television's fiction department.

That's not to say that festival films were without British influence. Jude Law redoubled his over-exposure to movie audiences in Wong Kar-Wai's sleep-inducing foray into English language films with "My Blueberry Nights," an American-staged road movie of longing and discontent. Director Michael Winterbottom whored himself out to direct Mariane Pearl's money-grabbing pity party "A Mighty Heart," a tedious police procedural about the kidnapping and assassination of her late husband and Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl, that would have been better served in documentary form. Perhaps the crass film should have been entitled "Mariane Pearl's Mighty Wallet." Joy Division's Ian Curtis was the enigmatic focus of market favorite "Control," a black-and-white musical biopic that quickly found a buyer.

Under the radar was Julien Temple's inspiring and profound documentary "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten," a stirring look at the life and philosophies of the man who gave The Clash their bold revolutionary voice.

In the observed absence of Sacha Baron Cohen, who brought laughs to last year's festival with "Borat," we settled instead for a remastered version of "Cruising" from William Friedkin that prodded a different bent of dark humor. The director that taught filmmakers what car chases were all about with "The French Connection," and the nature of pure evil with "The Exorcist," personally presented a beautifully restored version of his Al Pacino thriller. Quentin Tarantino sat middle-row-center in the Noga Hilton cinema where Friedkin poured loving praise on the relatively young director before introducing his gay-themed serial killer movie that defined the genre. Twenty-eight years after its release, "Cruising" stands as a shocking and intense movie with a riveting performance from Al Pacino. A DVD of the restored film, with the naughty bits put back in, is scheduled for release in the near future.

Screening in the "Cannes Classics" section was a fully restored version of Terence Fisher's 1958 Hammer Films horror classic "Dracula," staring Christopher Lee in the title role along with Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing." On the 50th anniversary of the gloriously gothic Hammer Horror cycle, "The Horror of Dracula" (as it was titled in the states) delivered a distinctive tickle of entertainment. A new print of writer/director Elaine May's 1976 film "Mikey & Nicky," starring John Cassavetes and Peter Falk, gave a dramatic New York wallop of friendship and betrayal with the undeniable talent of Cassavetes, the actor, spinning urban male lunacy like gold.

The subject of film restoration was asserted most prominently by Martin Scorsese, who announced the launch of his "World Cinema Foundation," dedicated to the restoration and preservation of films from all over the world. America's most respected living director also gave a master class in filmmaking to a standing room only crowd of cineastes and film students that counted the ubiquitous Tarantino among its number.

Alejandro Gonzalez, Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron carried over some of last year festival's Mexican flavored excitement when they announced the launch of their new company "cha cha cha" in cooperation with "U" and Focus Features. Gael Garcia Bernal is scheduled to star in the company's debut feature "Rudi y Cursi."

Abject failure fell to Harmony Korine with "Mister Lonley," his first film since 1999 when he created his last cinematic debacle "Julien Donkey Boy." Critics walked out in droves at the demented story of a lonely Michael Jackson impersonator living in Paris who falls in love with a Marilyn Monroe imitator. Not far behind Korine was has-been writer/director

May 30 - 08:21 AM

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