CANNES 2011: ALL WRAPPED UP



FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

American director TERRENCE MALICK’S expansive drama THE TREE OF LIFE won the top honour at the CANNES FILM FESTIVAL, while KIRSTEN DUNST took the BEST ACTRESS prize for the apocalyptic saga MELANCHOLIA.

The PALME D’OR was accepted Sunday by DEDE GARDNER and BILL POHLAD – two TREE OF LIFE producers – in place of the notoriously press shy director, who has skipped all public events at the glamorous CANNES festival.

“I know he would be thrilled with this,” Mr. Pohlad stated. “Why isn’t he here? I’m not saying it’s an easy question to answer, but he personally is a very humble guy and a very shy guy. He just very sincerely wants the work to speak for itself.”

Ms. Gardner said when it came to the prospect of CANNES prizes, TERRENCE MALICK had been “very sweet. He said, ‘If we were that lucky, I’d like to thank my wife Becky and my parents.'”

THE TREE OF LIFE, which opens Friday in the United States, stars BRAD PITT, SEAN PENN and JESSICA CHASTAIN in a far flung story of family life that plays out against a cosmic backdrop, including glorious visuals of the creation of the universe and the era of dinosaurs.

KIRSTEN DUNST won for her role in the end of the world tale MELANCHOLIA, which was directed by LARS VON TRIER.

JEAN DUJARDIN claimed the BEST ACTOR prize for the silent film THE ARTIST, in which he portrays a 1920s Hollywood star whose career crumbles as talking pictures become the norm. In keeping with his singing, hoofing character, he did a tap dance as he took to the CANNES stage.

JEAN DUJARDIN said he wanted to share his prize with costar BERENICE BEJO, who stood up and blew kisses at him on stage. The film was directed by her husband French filmmaker MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS, who also directed Monseiur Dujardin in the OSS 117 spy spoofs.

Several well received films, among them Spanish director PEDRO ALMODOVAR’S savage thriller THE SKIN I LIVE IN and Scottish filmmaker LYNNE RAMSAY’S WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN went home empty handed.

TERRENCE MALICK, who has made only five films in a nearly 40 year career, previously won the directing prize in 1978 for DAYS OF HEAVEN during his last trip to CANNES. THE TREE OF LIFE was shot three years ago and festival organizers had hoped to premiere it at CANNES in 2010, but it was not ready in time.

Prizes were awarded by a nine member jury headed by ROBERT DE NIRO that included actors UMA THURMAN and JUDE LAW.

THE TREE OF LIFE was the first American film to win top honours at CANNES since (MICHAEL MOORE’S FAHRENHEIT 9/11) in 2004.

ROBERT DE NIRO told reporters choosing the top winner was difficult because of the range and “great qualities” among the 20 competing titles but that THE TREE OF LIFE ultimately fit the bill.

“It had the size, the importance, the intention – whatever you want to call it – that seemed to fit the prize. Most of us felt the movie was terrific.”

The second place GRAND PRIZE was shared by Belgian brothers JEAN PIERRE and LUC DARDENNE, two time winners of the PALME D’OR, for their troubled youth drama THE KID WITH A BIKE and Turkish director NURI BILGE CEYLAN for his meditative saga ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA.

The third place JURY PRIZE went to French actor turned director MAIWENN’S child protection drama POLISSE.

Despite a so so reception from critics, LARS VON TRIER’S MELANCHOLIA found favour with CANNES jurors.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the best films. I think it’s a great film,” said French director OLIVIER ASSAYAS, who served on the jury.

Another Danish filmmaker NICOLAS WINDING REFN won the DIRECTING award for DRIVE, his action thriller starring RYAN GOSLING as a Hollywood stunt driver caught up in a heist gone wrong. Mr. Refn was immensely grateful to RYAN. The producers of the picture allowed him to choose which director he wanted.

“He really wanted to make the movie and he really wanted to make it with me,” Mr. Refn stated.

The SCREENPLAY award went to Israeli filmmaker JOSEPH CEDAR for FOOTNOTE, his tale of rival father and son Talmudic scholars.

The winners…

PALME D’OR (GOLDEN PALM): THE TREE OF LIFE

GRAND PRIZE (TIE): THE KID WITH THE BIKE/ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA

JURY PRIZE: POLISSE

BEST ACTRESS: KIRSTEN DUNST – MELANCHOLIA

BEST ACTOR: JEAN DUJARDIN – THE ARTIST

BEST DIRECTOR: NICOLAS WINDING REFN – DRIVE

BEST SCREENPLAY: JOSEPH CEDAR – FOOTNOTE

CAMERA D’OR (DIRECTORIAL DEBUT): LAS ACACIAS by PABLO GIORGELLI

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