Cannes Film Festival Wrapped, The Tree of Life Wins Top Honor
The 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival has wrapped, and bestowed its highest honor, the prestigious Palme d’Or, to The Tree Of Life, from American writer/director Terrence Malick. The notoriously reclusive auteur was not present, with his producers accepting the award for him. This is Malick’s sixth film as writer/director since his 2005 work, The New World. The Tree Of Life was the only movie in the competition designated as officially American, due to the nationality of its director.
The competition jury included such celebrities as Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman and Jude Law as well as several directors including Olivier Assayas. The second top award, The Grand Prix, was shared between Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, by Turkish filmmaker, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and The Kid With A Bike, from the Belgian brothers Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne.
In a pleasant surprise Kirsten Dunst was named Best Actress, for her role in Laars Von Trier’s cerebral sci-fi film, Melancholia. Von Trier was declared “Persona non-grata” after his rather misconceived statement earlier this week, in which he mockingly called himself a Nazi.
As a result Melancholia remained in competition, but as Manhola Dargis of the N.Y. Times surmised, this was in “Name only.” Dunst was widely seen as a worthy contender for the prize, and Von Trier, a previous Palme d’Or winner was seen as a top candidate for the Palme d’Or, but the whole Nazi affair spoiled his chances at this year’s Festival.
Jean Dujardin received the award for Best Actor for his work in The Artist, an homage to silent cinema from Michel Hazanavicius. The award for Best Director went to Nicholas Winding Refn for Drive, a film about a stunt driver for films who sidelines as a criminal starring Ryan Gosling. The Jury Prize was bestowed upon Polisse, a drama about police officers in a child protection unit.
Best screenplay went to Israeli writer Joseph Cedar, for Footnote, a story about a difficult father-son relationship between two Talmudic scholars. Cedar is known for his previous, very different work in the gritty war-film Beaufort.
The Festival is in many ways an embodiment of cinema as an art form. It is a festival that very often honors the esoteric, subtle and low-key over the glitz and glamour, but the films that screen and are exhibited at Cannes are very often the embodiment of large budget filmmaking, such as Pirates of The Caribbean, which premiered at the Festival.
The award will no doubt help The Tree of Life in certain markets when it is released this Memorial Day weekend, although this release date for Mallick’s film is peculiar, given its artistic pedigree. The film would have likely benefited, both critically and financially, from a Fall/Winter release in time for the award season.
Instead, for some reason, the film is slated to vie with the summer popcorn fare. One can only hope that audiences will take a break from car chases, pirates, explosions and expected romantic couplings to ponder Malick’s visual poetry.
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