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25.5.04

An Apolitical Palme d'Or?

As promised, a little report on the jury's press conference in Cannes, by way of a translation of Jacky Bornet's article (Le Jury justifie son palmarès [The jury explains its awards], May 23) from France 2:

While the media saw a political motive in the awarding of the Palme d'or to Michael Moore's inflammatory anti-Bush movie Fahrenheit 9/11, the jury president, Quentin Tarantino, confirmed simply that "the best film in competition" was the one that received the award.

With his colleagues in full agreement, the director of Kill Bill added: "If [Moore] had made a bad film, I would have been against this Palme d'or. If he wanted to do politics, Michael Moore would not make films, he would pursue a political career." For the Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, the film "pays homage to the cinema." The Haitian-American novelist Edwige Danticat, for his part, believed that Michael Moore "speaks for people who have no voice." Emmanuelle Béart saw Fahrenheit 9/11 not as "an anti-American film but a film that speaks of America in a different way."

The Grand Prix winner, a cult manga adaptation (Old Boy), "could have won the Palme d'or," Tarantino stated who, according to sources, argued with his colleagues that the award should go to the South Korean film and not to Moore. It was a close race between the two films," he added. "This is not second prize. By only two votes, Old Boy could have won: it touched everybody."

Questioned about the Best Actor prize given to young Japanese actor Yuuya Yagira (14 years old) for his role in Nobody Knows by Hirokasu Kore-eda, the Belgian actor Benoît Poelvoorde defended it by saying, "He moved us. It's a character who evolves, who grows up: age makes no difference, it's about truth, the emotions he has to go through that convinced the jury."

The Best Screenplay award, given to Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri for Comme une image, was "one of the easiest awards to make," according to President Tarantino. The screenwriters of Comme une image, directed by Agnès Jaoui and written by both of them, were "candidates for the Best Screenplay award from the start," he added. "It shows us universal feelings, and everyone recognized that."

As for the esoteric Tropical Malady, the first Thai film ever shown at Cannes, which was given the Prix du Jury, "it's a film that moved us deeply," declared Hong Kong director Tsui Hark. "It had a great number of advocates on the jury." The director of History of Chinese Ghosts confirmed that it was a good idea to lean toward a film that elicited such diverse reactions. "I believed it was important and was worth the trouble of being shown," he concluded.
The article (see link above) has some nice pictures, too.

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