The French film THE CLASS (ENTRE LES MURS), a frank tale about classroom life using real teachers and students at an actual junior high school, won top honours yesterday at Cannes. Directed by Laurent Cantet, THE CLASS was the first French film to win the PALME D’OR since Under Satan’s Son in 1987. The docudrama was shot in a raw, improvisational style to chronicle the events that unfold over the course of one school year.

The win was a unanimous decision among the nine member jury, said SEAN PENN, who headed the panel.

Italian films won the second place grand prize and the third place jury prize. Matteo Garrone’s GOMORRAH, a study of the criminal underworld in Naples took the Grand Prize while Paolo Sorrentino’s IL DIVO, a lively portrait of Prime Minister Guilio Andreotti, won the Jury Award.

BENICIO DEL TORO won the BEST ACTOR prize for CHE, STEVEN SODERBERGH’S four hour plus epic about Latin American revolutionary CHE GUEVARA. Presented as two films, CHE follows Guevara and Fidel Castro’s triumphant guerilla campaign to overthrow Cuba’s government in the late 50s and Guevara’s downfall and execution after trying to foment a similar rebellion in Bolivia in the 60s.

Mr. Penn, who costarred with Mr. Del Toro in the movie 21 GRAMS, said that Mr. Del Toro also won in a unanimous jury vote.

“I’d like to dedicate this to the man himself, Che Guevara,” said Mr. Del Toro. He also thanked Mr. Soderbergh “who got up every day, forced me to do this…He was there pushing it and he pushed all of us.”

Mr. Soderbergh directed Mr. Del Toro to a Supporting Actor Oscar in 2000’s TRAFFIC.

Sandra Corveloni was chosen as BEST ACTRESS for Linha de Passe, in which she plays the mother of four boys struggling to make better lives for themselves in a Brazilian slum. It was her film debut.

Turkish filmmaker Nuri Belge Ceylon was named BEST DIRECTOR for Three Monkeys, which centres on a father who takes the rap for his employer’s crime in exchange for financial support for his wife and son – only to have it backfire in a torrent of bitterness.

Belgian siblings Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne, two time winners of the PALME D’OR, received the Screenplay prize for Lorna’s Silence, about an immigrant woman who enters a sham marriage to gain Belgian citizenship.

The prize for a first time director went to British filmmaker Steve McQueen’s Hunger, set at a Northern Ireland prison where IRA volunteer Bobby Sands and other inmates seeking Irish independence staged a hunger strike in 1981.

The Cannes jury awarded special prizes to CLINT EASTWOOD, who directed the film CHANGELING (which was shown in competition) and to CATHERINE DENEUVE, who appeared in two different films at Cannes this year.

Jury President SEAN PENN won the BEST ACTOR OSCAR for MYSTIC RIVER, which was shut out for prizes at CANNES five years ago – just as CHANGELING failed to make major inroads at the 2008 fest.

Mr. Penn remarked, “There was a field of such powerful, emotional movies and performances. There were so many times that we thought, it just can’t get better.”

Critics judged the CANNES line up more harshly, however. While there were few outright bombs presented, critics found the films rather lacklustre.

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2 Responses to “CANNES 2008 RECAP”

  1. glimmer Says:

    the class could be ok. but could we get away from conventional bio type stuff winning. always. *yuck*….

  2. HEY, YOU’RE BACK!!!!!

    Where were you, glim sweetie? We missed you around here.

    I am so glad you have returned to the fold, darlin. I was beginning to worry about you…

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