EYE ON EUROPE
REPORT ON CANNES 2009
Palme d'Or winner Michael Haneke is flanked by actresses Isabelle Huppert, left, jury president of the Cannes Film Festival, and Annie Giradot.
Photo Courtesy of THE GUARDIAN
Cannes prize goes to
Austrian film on Nazis
By MICHAEL JOHNSON
The Cannes Film Festival awarded its top prize, the Palme dOr, to "Das Weisse Band" ("The White Ribbon"), directed by Austrian Michael Haneke, at a ceremony last week marred by stars wandering around the stage, talking too much and being drowned out in a cacophony of Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and broken English--all translated in louder simultaneous French.
Cannes likes to pat itself on the back as the worlds largest film festival, but the mechanics of the awards ceremony always fall short. My prize for the worst attempt at humor this year goes to former Monty Pythoner Terry Gilliam who pretended to burst into tears when told he was supposed to present an award to someone else, not take it for himself. It was an agonizing five minutes for everyone except Gilliam.
Other strange moments included the erroneous announcement by MC Edouard Behr, a French actor, that French actress Isabelle Adjani would appear next on stage. He was off by one page. He found it quite amusing.
Throughout the two-hour ceremony, winners wandered about the stage unsure where they were supposed to go or how to exit gracefully.
Jury President Isabelle Huppert, tried to make the most of a special jury lifetime award for veteran director Alain Renais, 87, who had a film, Les Herbes Folles, in competition. Renais stood onstage for several minutes to take a standing ovation but I thought I detected resentment on his face at failing to win a major award for his film, probably the last he will make.
The major American presence at the two-week festival was the opening film Up, an animated Pixar production in 3D that left French attendees groping for something positive to say. One wondered if this was the best in acting and production coming out of Hollywood this year.
Quentin Tarantino was present for a few days to promote his Inglourious Basterds as the U.S. entry, but it did not win, show or place. Another Austrian, Christoph Waltz, a Nazi officer in the film, did take home Best Actor, however.
Tarantino was all over French Television for the two-week run of the competition, eager to bask in the attention. His film tells of an American Jewish hit squad hunting down Nazis and wiping them out in great numbers. It was described by one actor at Tarantinos main press conference as kosher porn. Tarantino seemed okay with that.
Producer Harvey Weinstein, traveling with Tarantino to promote the film, told one reporter he enjoyed Tarantinos company. Its like traveling with the Rolling Stones, he said, not very enigmatically.
Two former Palme dOr winners were back in competition but went home empty-handed: Jane Campion, with "Bright Star," a drama about poet John Keats, and Ken Loach, with "Looking for Eric" a fantasy biopic starring and about soccer star Eric Cantona.
The mere mention of horror film titles in and out of competition provides a sense of where the industry is going: "Antichrist," "Enter the Void" "Thirst" and a midnight screening of Sam Raimi's "Drag Me to Hell."
A complete list of winners:
"Das Weisse Band" (The White Ribbon) directed by Michael Haneke
"Un Prophet" (A Prophet) directed by Jacques Audiard
Lifetime achievement award for his work and his exceptional contribution to the history of cinema
Brillante Mendoza for "Kinatay"
"Fish Tank" directed by Andrea Arnold
"Bak-Jwi" (Thirst) directed by Park Chan-Wook
Christoph Waltz in "Inglourious Basterds" directed by Quentin Tarantino
Charlotte Gainsbourg in "Antichrist" directed by Lars von Trier
Mei Feng for "Chun Feng Chen Zui De Ye Wan" (Spring Fever) directed by Lou Ye
Prix Vulcain: Artist-Technician
Aitor Berenguer, sound technician of "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" directed by Isabel Coixet
"Arena" directed by João Salaviza
"The Six Dollar Fifty Man" directed by Mark Albiston and Louis Suherland
"Samson and Delilah" directed by Warwick Thornton
Caméra d'Or--Special Distinction
"Ajami" directed by Scandar Copti, Yaron Shani
©2009 by Michael Johnson. The photo is courtesy of The Guardian. This column first posted May 28, 2009.
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