'Place' takes Ecumenical Jury kudos

CANNES — Aki Kaurismaki’s ”Le Havre,” Pierre Schoeller’s ”The Minister” and Jeff Nichols’ ”Take Shelter” shared awards Saturday at Cannes from the Fipresci Intl. Federation of Film Critics.

Also announced Saturday, Cannes’ Ecumenical Jury awarded its main Prix to Italian Paolo Sorrentino’s Sean Penn starrer ”This Must Be the Place.”

Fipresci plaudits go to one outstanding film in Cannes Competition and Un Certain Regard and a third in either Directors’ Fortnight or Critics’ Week.

Cannes Competition contender ”Le Havre” finds Kaurismaki at the top of his deadpan comedy game, delivering a crowd-pleasing tale toplining Kaurismaki regular Andre Wilms as a shoeshine who takes an African stowaway under his wing.

Cannes Competition favorite among international critics, at least through Friday, ”Le Havre” is sold by The Match Factory, and produced by Sputnik, France’s Pyramide Prods. and Germany’s Pandora Film Prod.

”Minister”’s Fipresci nod as best film in Un Certain Regard comes as something of a surprise: Schoeller’s follow-up to ”Versailles,” it garnered good reviews as an convincing description of the all-consuming soul-destroying grind of high public office – here France’s transport minister, played by Olivier Gourmet.

But the subject is far fresher in France , where politicians have traditionally gone about their business in private – than in the U.S. or U.K. context.

Defending the award, French Fipresci jury member Laurent Atnin said ”The Minister” was totally different from Nicolas Sarkozy portrait ”The Conquest,” also at Cannes.

”The Minister” is ”a surprise from the start to the end, a psychological portrait of a fictional political figure which confirms Schoeller after ‘Versailles’ as a very promising talent,” Atnin said.

Acquired by Sony Pictures Classics before its upbeat reception at Sundance, psychological thriller ”Take Shelter” adds the Fipresci plaudit to a growing prize trawl, including Thursday’s Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prix.

Playing Competition Thursday, ”Place” features a dominating performance by Penn as an aged rock star turned Nazi hunter.

Ecumenical Special Mentions went to ”Le Havre” and Lebanese Nadine Labaki’s Un Certain Regard player ”Where Do We Go Now,” her follow-up to ”Caramel.”

Co-produced and sold internationally by Pathe, ”Now” turns on the Muslim and Christian womenfolk in a village who band together to defuse sectarian violence between their hothead men.

A ”real revolt” against continuing conflict in Lebanon, Labaki said after receiving the mention, ”Now” is a ”cry from the heart.”

The Ecumenical jury mention would help its message reach wider international audiences, she added.

Fahime Nafir contributed to this article.

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