Festival de Cannes Presents Awards
28.05.2012 - The Festival de Cannes announced its award winners on Sunday evening. The jury of the Official Competition, headed by celebrated Italian director Nanni Moretti, included actresses Hiam Abbass, Emmanuelle Devos and Diane Kruger; actor Ewan McGregor; directors Andrea Arnold, Alexander Payne and Raoul Peck; and fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Not surprisingly, given the buzz surrounding the film and the general critical and popular support it received, Austrian director Michael Haneke’s French-language film Love (Amour) took the presitigious Palme d’Or. Haneke’s film, a wonderfully moving portrayal of an elderly couple dealing with the aftermath of the wife’s suffering a stroke, is a powerful and emotionally wrenching tour de force. French performers Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva bring an incredible dignity and pride to their roles, supported by a brilliantly anguished turn from Isabelle Huppert as their cold and distanced daughter.
None of those performers took away awards for their contributions, however. Instead, the award for Best Actress was shared by Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan for their work in Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills. Mungiu’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2007’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which took the Palme d’Or that year, was not received as well as was expected. Nevertheless, the women’s performances as two young friends reunited under questionable circumstances in a remote Orthodox monastery are both raw and brave and well deserving of celebration. Mungiu took the award for best screenplay for his film as well.
Danish superstar Mads Mikkelsen’s turn in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt was acknowledged as the best performance by an actor. One of the founders of the “Dogme 95” movement and the winner of the Cannes Jury Prize for The Celebration (1998), Vinterberg employs a more classical form for his recent film, the story of a lonely man fighting for his life and dignity after he is falsely accused of child abuse.
Despite a lack of major critical support, Italian director Matteo Garrone’s Reality was handed the jury’s Grand Prix. A scathing and at times hilarious look at one man’s descent into paranoia due to his obsession with getting himself on the popular Big Brother television show, the film satirized the Italian – and indeed worldwide – fascination with celebrity culture.
The jury also gave awards to Mexican director Carlos Reygadas’s Post Tenebras Lux (Best Director); British director Ken Loach’s The Angel’s Share (Jury Prize); and Turkish director L. Rezan Yesilbas’s Silent (Best Short Film).
In the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, Aida Begic’s Children of Sarajevo took Special Distinction. Two awards were given for best actress: Emilie Dequenne won for her turn in Joachim Lafosse’s Our Children and Suzanne Clément was acknowledged for her performance in Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways. There was no award given for best actor. The Special Jury Prize was given to Gustave Kervern and Benoît Delépine’s Le Grand Soir. The section’s main prize went to Michel Franco’s After Lucia.
The Caméra d’Or was given to Benh Zeitlin’s marvellously imaginative and beautiful tale of life beyond the levee in Louisiana, Beasts of the Southern Wild, a film already celebrated at the Sundance festival earlier in the year.
No discussion of this year’s awards can be complete without noting the strange lack of any mention for Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, a bizarre, dreamy, at times hilarious romp through one very strange workday in Paris. Buzz about the film was rampant throughout the festival, but at the critical moment … Nothing. Film festivals are funny things.