After two weeks of screenings, press conferences and red carpets, Austrian director Michael Haneke’s latest film Amour was awarded the coveted Palme d’Or this evening. Haneke joins an elite club of directors to win the prestigious prize twice, having also won in 2009 for The White Ribbon, and fought off competition from Leos Carax, Cristian Mungiu and Matteo Garrone.
Garrone didn’t go away empty-handed however, with his new film Reality awarded the Special Jury Prize by fellow Italian (and head of the jury) Nanni Moretti. Other winners on the night included Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, who shared the Best Actress award for their turns on Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills, and Mads Mikkelsen, who won Best Actor for his role in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt (Jagten).
The American films were, for the most part, quite rightly sidelined. The best of them, Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly is a wonderful piece of genre and will get its rewards further down the line one hopes. It was also great to see Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild building momentum from its Sundance triumph to win the Camera d’Or.
Finally, Michel Franco’s brilliant if harrowing After Lucia (which won the Un Certain Regard prize) brilliantly portrayed the horrifying power of the disgusting pain that can be inflicted via bullying and group think. In the Mexican film, it is a high school that falls foul to such activities, but it could just as easily be a workplace, or a whole society. The examples were extreme but the root was true, and we have to thank the director and his troupe for presenting it in a way that refused to compromise.
Palme d’Or: Amour (Love), Michael Haneke
Best Actor: Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt (Jagten)
Best Actress: Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, Beyond the Hills
Un Certain Regard winners:
Prize of Un Certain Regard: After Lucia (Después de Lucía), Michel Franco
Special Jury Prize: Le Grand Soir, Gustave de Kervern and Benoît Delépine
Best Actress: Emile Dequenne, Loving Without Reason and Suzanne Clement, Laurence Anyways
Special Distinction of the Jury: Djeca (Children of Sarajevo), Aida Begic