France wins big, Italy, Blanchett lose out in Cannes

25 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Dheepan,’ a Sri Lankan refugee drama, is surprising top winner at Cannes Film Festival.

Director Jacques Audiard holds the Palme d’Or award for the film Dheepan as he poses for photographers during a photo call following the awards ceremony at the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) CANNES, France (AP) — The 68th Cannes Film Festival was brought to a surprising close Sunday with Jacques Audiard’s Sri Lankan refugee drama taking the festival’s coveted top honor, the Palme d’Or. US directing duo the Coen brothers head a jury of top actors and filmmakers that will decide which of the 19 competition entries will walk away with the 20,000-euro ($24,000) gold-and-crystal trophy. Once they arrive in a rough housing estate on the outskirts of Paris, Dheepan must use his battlefield experience to keep the three of them safe from drug gangs waging a turf war.

Jury members, though, said “Dheepan” was chosen for its overall strength as a film, rather than any topicality. “We all thought it was a very beautiful movie,” said Ethan Coen, calling the decision “swift.” ”Everyone had some high level of excitement and enthusiasm for it.” Audiard, springing to the podium at the Palais des Festivals, accepted the award with warm gratitude, bowing to the jury. Critics have hailed this year’s crop, which revealed a remarkably strong contingent from Italy, two noted Chinese-language pictures, a couple of American features seemingly destined for Oscar acclaim, a raw Holocaust movie, and a mixed bag of French fare.

After three terrifying years, he managed to escape to Thailand before travelling in 1993 on a fake passport to France, where he was eventually granted political asylum. “I came to France because at the time I was able to only find a fake French passport and not a fake British or Canadian passport,” Anthonythasan said, noting how difficult it had been to learn the French language. Standouts include ‘Carol’, an American lesbian drama that many thought likely to earn Australian actress Cate Blanchett accolades for her consummate acting; ‘Son of Saul’, a first feature from a Hungarian director set in the Auschwitz extermination camp; and ‘My Mother’, a touching Italian movie about a director’s crisis and loss. The Sri Lankan military declared an end to the civil war when it finally killed Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009, ending the decades-long campaign for a separate homeland for ethnic minority Tamils. Others were ‘Youth’, another Italian-directed movie but filmed in English with Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Jane Fonda; and ‘The Lobster’, a weird but funny Greek-directed movie starring Colin Farrell. ‘The Assassin’, a slow-moving Taiwanese martial arts movie starring actress Shu Qi, won over arthouse reviewers for its rich aesthetics.

Anthonythasan worked odd jobs until he began writing in the late 1990s, churning out short stories, plays, political essays and, most recently, novels inspired by his traumatic experiences in Sri Lanka. Some expected Nemes’ horrifying plunge into the life of an Auschwitz worker to take the top award, but it’s been 26 years since a debut film (Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”) was given the Palme.

He took a break from writing to appear in Audiard’s movie, before which his acting had mainly been limited to propaganda street theatre for the Tamil Tigers and later, a bit role in an Indian movie. English actress Sienna Miller and Canadian actor Xavier Dolan, both jury members, sounded especially moved by “Son of Saul.” Miller called it “breathtaking” and an extraordinary accomplishment for a first-time filmmaker. Joel and Ethan Coen, the makers of Oscar-winner ‘No Country for Old Men’ and the 1991 Palme d’Or winner ‘Barton Fink’, could be swayed by movies with menace, or oddball humour, or extraordinary production values. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, the masterful 68-year-old Taiwanese filmmaker, won best director for his first feature in eight years: “The Assassin,” a lushly painterly martial arts drama.

But the opinions of the other members of the panel also have to be taken into account – for instance, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (known for fantasies such as ‘Pan’s Labyrinth), Canadian wunderkind filmmaker Xavier Dolan, and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Sienna Miller. An unofficial award, the Queer Palme, decided by a separate panel looking to highlight gay people in movies, went to ‘Carol’. ‘It is a historic moment – the first time a story of love between two women has been treated with the respect and importance that we accord to all other cinematic romances,’ said Queer Palm jury president Desiree Akhavan, an American actress and director. To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here. It was given to both Rooney Mara, half of the romantic pair of Todd Haynes’ ’50s lesbian drama “Carol,” and Emmanuelle Bercot, the French star of the roller coaster marriage drama “My King.” (Bercot also directed the festival opener, “Standing Tall,” about a delinquent teenager.) Any split was presumed to go to Mara and her “Carol” co-star, Cate Blanchett.

Best actor was awarded to Vincent Lindon, the veteran French actor of Stéphane Brizé’s “The Measure of a Man.” He plays a man struggling to make a living after a long period of unemployment. The visibly moved Lindon won over some big-name competition, including Michael Caine, the star of Paolo Sorrentino’s unrewarded “Youth,” a wry, melancholy portrait of old age. Franco and Roth met three years ago when Roth, serving on a Cannes jury, helped award Franco the Un Certain Regard prize. “It’s a Cannes story,” said Franco. The Camera d’Or, Cannes award for best first feature film, went to “La Tierra Y la Sombra.” César Augusto Acevedo’s debut, which played in the Critics Week section, is about an old farmer returning home to tend to his gravely ill son. The Coens themselves took the Palme in 1991 for “Barton Fink.” The last two Cannes winners have been three-hour art-house epics: the glacial Turkish drama “Winter Sleep,” chosen last year by Jane Campion’s jury, and “Blue is the Warmest Color,” as picked by Steven Spielberg’s jury.

Those non-contenders included dystopian sci-fi desert derby ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, which has gone on to bumper box-office success, ‘Inside Out’, a new animation movie seen as putting Pixar back onto a winning slate, and ‘Amy’, a documentary about the short and tragic life of superstar singer Amy Winehouse. Some of the films that drew the biggest raves (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Pixar’s “Inside Out”) played out of competition, while some in it (like Gus Van Sant’s “The Sea of Trees”) drew loud boos.

The festival was dominated by discussion about gender equality with many — from Blanchett to Jane Fonda — speaking about female opportunity in the movie business. “You hope it’s not just the year,” said Blanchett of the attention to women in film. “It’s not some sort of fashionable moment.” An honorary Palme d’Or was also given to French filmmaker Agnes Varda, the first woman to receive one and only the fourth director after Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Bernardo Bertolucci.

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