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23.5.04

Cannes Wrap-Up

So, the Cannes juries awarded the prizes. The big news was that the most important award, the Palme d'or (Golden Palm), went to Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, as predicted right here on Ionarts last week. (It is the first documentary to win the Palme d'or since Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle's Le monde du silence did so in 1956.) According to reports from Agence France-Presse, Jury President Quentin Tarantino was barely able to pronounce the syllable "Fah-" when the crowd of 2,200 invited guests rose unanimously for a 9-minute standing ovation punctuated by shouts of "Bravo!" In his acceptance speech, Moore dedicated the movie to the Iraqi people and all those who are suffering because of the United States. Twice more during the speech, the crowd rose for a standing ovation.

The main jury also awarded the second prize, the Grand Prix du jury, to Old Boy by South Korean director Park Chan-wook, the Best Actor award (perhaps the Festival's biggest surprise) to Japan's Yagira Yuuya (who is only 14 years old) for Nobody Knows (directed by Kore-Eda Hirokazu), Best Actress to Maggie Cheung for Clean, Best Director to Toni Gatlif for Exils, Best Screenplay to Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri for Comme une image, and Jury Prizes to American actress Irma P. Hall (for the Coen brothers' Ladykillers) and the film Tropical Malady by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (the first prize ever at Cannes for a film from Thailand in competition).

The short film jury gave its Palme d'or to Romanian director Catalin Mitulescu's Trafic and its Jury Prize to the animated film Flatlife by Belgium's Jonas Geirnaert. The Caméra d'or (Golden Camera, given to a film by a first-time director) went to Israeli director Keren Yedaya's Mon trésor. As noted in other news reports, some of the darlings of the French media were not awarded, including Wong Kar-wai's 2046 (which was shown a day late, after the film arrived only because a special air lane had been reserved to get the jet carrying the canisters to Cannes in time, in a very dramatic presentation on Thursday—so dramatic it may have been staged, some cynical journalists said), Serb director and Cannes favorite Emir Kustirica's Life Is a Miracle, and Geoffrey Rush for his much-appreciated performance in The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers.

Since the announcement of the prizes was moved ahead by a day this year, the final day of the Festival (today) will feature an unusual press conference at which the Jury members will explain their decisions. As the selection process at Cannes has always mystified me, I'll be reading about it.

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