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France gets first "Palme d'Or" in 21 years

Latest update : 2008-05-27

France's Laurent Cantet won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival Sunday with "Entre les murs", a realistic drama about life in a French school. The event marks France's first Golden Palm after 21 years.

Surprise Golden Palm
 
 

The last day of the Cannes Film Festival is a difficult one. Most of the people have left, and the screenings have sparse attendance. 

 

Such was the ambiance when Entre les murs (The Class)  by French director Laurent Cantet, was screened. Having been relatively disappointed with the other French films screened in competition - Un conte de Noël by Arnaud Desplechin and La frontière de l'aube (The Dawn Shore) by Philippe Garell - a lot of people avoided the third French film in competition. 

 

However, on Saturday, the people who had seen the film began to sing its praises. When Entre les murs  won the Golden Palm, the general reaction was one of confusion. Not many people (including this reporter) had seen the film, so any judgement was superfluous. 

 

But fortunately, a screening of the Entre les Murs was scheduled just after the award ceremony, and people flocked to see this mysterious last-minute work that upset all predictions.  

 

Entre les murs is a realistic drama that takes place entirely within a school. Most of the action occurs in one classroom, where a French teacher tries to make a difference with his original teaching methods. Through witty and careful dialogue between students and teacher, serious politicial issues in France come to surface - religion, race, poverty, immigration and public service. 

 

Entre les murs, when released in France, is sure to create debate.

 
Solitude amidst modern society 
 

On the day that the Cannes Film festival nominations were announced, France24.com had asked the festival's director Thierry Frémeaux whether any particular theme encompassed the films presented this year. "I can't think of any specific themes at the moment," had replied Frémeaux. "But every year after the Festival, several themes emerge."

 

Indeed, as the red carpet is rolled up in preparation for next year, a look back on this year's selection reveals recurring portrayals of the individual incompatible with the world that surrounds him. 

 

Whether it be Ari Folman's character in the animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, the heroine in the Dardennes Brothers' film Lorna's Silence, the absurdity of the adolesent mafia trainees in Gomorra, the desperate solitude of Angelina Jolie's character in Clint Eastwood's The Exchange, the metaphor of lost vision in Fernando Mereille's Blindness, or Benicio Del Toro's tragic determination in Che, the films in Cannes reflected a world where individual longing is usurped by society's demands.

 

A world where the human being does not understand what is around him and is unable to integrate. 

Date created : 2008-05-26

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