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‘Beasts’ takes Cannes Fipresci prize

'Fog,' 'Back' also winners

CANNES — Completing an impressive double-whammy, Benh Zeitlin’s magical-realist “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a Sundance-winner, has now scooped plaudits at Cannes.

“Beasts” took the nod Saturday from the Fipresci Intl. Federation of Film Critics as best film in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. It also received an Ecumenical Jury mention.

Cannes competition player “In the Fog” and “Hold Back,” which screened in Directors’ Fortnight, nabbed further Fipresci nods.

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

Following the tradition of “Blue Valentine,” “Precious” and “Martha Macy May Marlene,” “Beasts” has segued successfully from Sundance to Cannes where it receives its international premiere. The Fox Searchlight U.S. pick-up bowed early at Cannes to an upbeat reception.

World War II-set “In the Fog,” from Sergei Loznitsa (“My Joy”), a vision of the haunting cruelty of armed conflict and occupation, has emerged as a second-half competition favorite among critics.

Set in Losnitsa’s native Belorrusia, soon after its 1942 German invasion, it had critics recalling Russian World War II classics, such as Elem Klimov’s “Come and See.”

Rachid Djaidani’s debut, Paris-set “Hold Back” turns on the horrified reactions of a French-Algerian woman’s 40 brothers when she announces she’s going to marry a black man.

Also announced Saturday, Cannes’ Ecumenical Jury awarded its main Prix to Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Hunt.”

Produced by Denmark’s Zentropa Entertainments, the small town set “Hunt” stars Mads Mikkelsen as a kindly, innocent kindergarten teacher whose life is destroyed by accusations of child abuse. A Cannes competition critics’ fave, it is being hailed as a return to form for Vinterberg (“The Celebration”).

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