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Emotions ran high at the competition screening of Walter Salles‘ “The Motorcycle Diaries” when frail 81-year-old Alberto Granado mounted the stage to accept the ovation of the ecstatic black-tie crowd.

Pic is based on Granado’s account of his travels through Latin America in 1952 with his friend Ernesto (soon to be “Che”) Guevara. It ends with a closeup on the face of the real Granado, watching Guevara’s plane fly away at the end of the trip.

At dinner afterward in the stylish Costes Beach restaurant, hard-bitten industry professionals confessed that Granado’s appearance on stage immediately after that closing shot had reduced them to tears.

Dinner was jointly hosted by French distrib Diaphana, U.S. distrib Focus, sales agent Pathe and producer FilmFour. Focus was represented by David Linde, John Lyon and Jason Resnick. Among those attending were helmer Salles; co-stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna and Mia Maestro; and producers Paul Webster, Rebecca Yeldham, Edgar Tenenbaum and Michael Nozik.

Guests included Guevara’s daughters Alisa and Aleida and Cannes jurors Tilda Swinton and Tim Roth, prez of the Camera d’Or panel.