Cannes wild about ‘Child’

Jarmusch's 'Flowers' takes Grand Prix; Jones' 'Burials' nabs two

This article was updated May 22, 2005.

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CANNES — Jurors at the Cannes Film Festival decided “The Child” shall lead them, as Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne nabbed a second Palme d’Or (after 1999’s “Rosetta”), while U.S. filmmakers received a healthy chunk of the main prizes.

In one of the few surprises at the 58th Cannes Film Festival, Tommy Lee Jones walked off with best actor for “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” the neo-Western he directed. Mexican writer Guillermo Arriaga won for the pic’s script, which is a rarity: Cannes jurors rarely bestow double honors on any movie.

Jim Jarmusch copped the Grand Prix, traditionally seen as the runner-up award, for Focus Features’ “Broken Flowers.” In his acceptance speech at Saturday’s closing ceremonies, Jarmusch paid lengthy tribute to his fellow competition helmers and the fest in general, noting, “The real honor (of competing here) was to be alongside some great filmmakers.”

“Great” was not a word heard Sunday as the final press conference contained some harsh words from jury prexy Emir Kusturica. “We had a selection where I think the average wasn’t very high,” he told a final news conference. “I felt that most of the films were a little bit less good than I expected.”

The other big U.S. winner was Miranda July, whose Sundance hit “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” co-produced by the U.K.’s FilmFour, shared the Camera d’Or award with Sri Lankan director Vimukthi Jayasundara’s “The Forsaken Land.”

This year’s competition jury was led by Serbian director Kusturica; the Camera d’Or, for first-time directors, is awarded by a separate jury, this year headed by Iranian helmer Abbas Kiarostami.

Though the competition featured an array of works by newer filmmakers, many of them failed to dazzle, so few fest pundits were surprised that established names won the rest of the prizes.

Long a favorite, after being shown early in the fest, “Hidden” earned the director award for Austrian Michael Haneke.

The jury prize went to well-known Chinese helmer Wang Xiaoshuai’s “Shanghai Dreams,” another family-based drama, set in the 1980s in the country’s hinterland.

Veteran Israeli entertainer Hanna Laslo copped the actress prize for her perf in Amos Gitai’s female ensembler “Free Zone.” Many critics singled out Laslo’s feisty perf as the best thing in the movie.

Many who attended this year’s May 11-22 fest complained it had a lackluster lineup. Fest toppers just shrugged that the official selection represented the best from what was available (though some cynics wonder what their criteria are).

Contrast with last year

The deja vu attitude stands in contrast to last year’s event, which featured a risk-taking official selection, electrified by such choices as Michael Moore’s wildly popular “Fahrenheit 9/11” (which fueled aesthetic and political debates throughout the fest) and a glittery Hollywood presence, thanks to plentiful stars attending with pics like “Troy” and “Shrek 2.”

This year, many sighed that the selection marked a return to old times, with a “safe” lineup of fest regulars, such as Jarmusch, Atom Egoyan, Wim Wenders and Woody Allen (whose “Match Point,” without a U.S. distrib yet, screened in a noncompeting slot).

While the bow of “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” was splashy, it wasn’t enough to match last year’s American hoopla.

Some press reps of other countries, of course, were glad the Americans didn’t dominate this year’s fest with heavyweight movies, star power or juggernaut marketing.

The restrained mood was typified by the muted reaction to Lars von Trier’s second consecutive American-bashing drama, “Manderlay,” which was shrugged off this year compared with the buzz last year for “Dogville.” In fact, the most overt heat this month seemed to be generated by critics negative to Wenders’ “Don’t Come Knocking.” Both went away empty-handed.

No nods for ‘Violence’

Arguably the biggest surprise in this year’s jury selections was the omission of recognition for David Cronenberg’s well-received family drama “A History of Violence,” seen as a fresh departure for the Canuck helmer. Other American no-shows included Gus Van Sant’s “Last Days,” inspired by the death of Kurt Cobain, while some expected Bill Murray to be honored for his perf in the Jarmusch movie.

Still, Americans earning critical acclaim included Shane Black for his out-of-competition “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” and Lodge Kerrigan for “Keane,” in the Directors Fortnight.

As for films from other countries, controversial Mexican entry “Battle in Heaven” had been rumored for a major award but went home empty-handed, along with Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “Three Times,” a late favorite in some critical quarters.

Apart from “Three Times,” judged formidable by hardcore arty critics but a yawn by others, the final hours of the fest threw up no new discoveries. Some were hoping a late-fest entry might prove to be the shot of adrenaline the competition lineup needed, as happened a few years ago with “The Pianist.”

The fest’s closing-night film, “Chromophobia,” a U.K. ensembler directed by Martha Fiennes (brother of star Ralph), joined the grand tradition of other Cannes closing clunkers.

And the winners are…

FEATURE FILMS

Palme d’Or
“The Child” (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium)

Grand Prix
“Broken Flowers” (Jim Jarmusch, France-U.S.)

Best Actress Award
Hanna Laslo (“Free Zone,” Israel-Belgium)

Best Actor Award
Tommy Lee Jones (“The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada,” U.S.)

Best Director Award
Michael Haneke (“Hidden,” France-Austria-Germany-Italy)

Best Screenplay Award
Guillermo Arriaga (“The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada,” U.S.)

Jury Prize
“Shanghai Dreams” (Wang Xiaoshuai, China)

SHORT FILMS

Palme d’Or
“Wayfarers” (Igor Strembitsky, Ukraine)

Special Mention
“Clara” (Van Sowerwine, Australia)

UN CERTAIN REGARD JURY

Prix Un Certain Regard
“The Death of Domnului Lazarescu” (Cristi Puiu, Romania)

Prix de L’Intimité
“Filmman” (Alain Cavalier, France)

Prix De L’Espoir
“Delwende” (S. Pierre Yameogo, Burkina Faso)

OTHER JURIES’ AWARDS

Caméra d’Or Winner
“The Forsaken Land” (Vimukthi Jayasundara, Sri Lanka)
“Me And You And Everyone We Know” (Miranda July, U.S.)

Prix Vulcain de l’Artiste-Technicien (technical award)
Leslie Shatz (“Last Days,” U.S.)
Robert Rodriguez“Sin City,” U.S.

CINÉFONDATION SHORT FILM AWARD

1st Prize
“Buy It Now” (Antonio Campos, U.S.)

2nd Prize (shared)
“A Deux” (Nikolay Khomeriki, France)
“Visiting Hours” (Maya Dreifuss, Israel)

3rd Prize (shared)
“La Plaine” (Roland Edzard, France)
“Be Quiet” (Sameh Zoabi, U.S.)

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