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Austrian director's 'The White Ribbon' wins top film festival prize

Video by Olivia SALAZAR WINSPEAR

Latest update : 2009-05-25

Austrian director Michael Haneke won the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or for his film 'The White Ribbon', a black and white drama that explores the roots of Nazi terror.

AFP - Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon," a chilling study of malice in a German village on the eve of World War I, took the Cannes film festival's prestigious top prize on Sunday.
   

The Austrian director's austere black and white work beat stiff competition from 19 other films by heavyweight auteurs like Quentin Tarantino and Jane Campion to win the Palme d'Or at the world's greatest cinema showcase.
   
"Today is a moment in my life when I can say I am very happy," said Haneke, whose often harrowing films -- such as "Funny Ganes" and "Code Unknown" -- have surgically probed society's sick underbelly.
  
He was handed the award at a star-studded red carpet gala by the Cannes jury president, French star Isabelle Huppert, who starred in his 2001 film "The Piano Teacher."
   
The notoriously extravagant festival toned down the glitz for this year's crisis-era bash and was lighter than usual in star power, but it still saw celebs like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie sashay up the fabled red carpet.
   
Billed as a battle of auteur titans, it mostly lived up to expectations, with Britain's Independent on Sunday calling it "a superior vintage" and France's Journal du Dimanche declaring "the return of great cinema".
   
A range of other prizes were dished out on Sunday, with French director Jacques Audiard -- who had been a frontrunner for the Palme -- taking the Grand Prix for his bleak prison drama "A Prophet."
   
Cult South Korean director Park Chan-Wook and British movie-maker Andrea Arnold jointly took the jury prize.
   
Arnold's "Fish Tank," a coming-of-age drama about a troubled teenaged girl in a grim London suburb, was given the award along with Park's "Thirst," a tale of a do-good priest turned vampire and his secret affair with a friend's wife.
   
Austrian soap star Christoph Waltz clinched the best actor award Sunday for his role as a multilingual Nazi in Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds."
   
France's Charlotte Gainsbourg took the best actress award for her taboo-defying role as a woman driven insane by grief in the shock Danish thriller "Antichrist" by Lars Von Trier.
   
Alain Resnais, at 86 the grand old man of French cinema, was awarded a special prize for his half-century career.
   
The onetime "New Wave" icon had returned to Cannes this year with the fantasy romantic comedy "Wild Grass," 50 years after he raised a storm with his arthouse hit "Hiroshima Mon Amour."
   
Penelope Cruz -- a hot tip for best actress award for her role in Almodovar's flick -- was among the A-list celebrities at the 12-day annual French Riviera bash, who also included Martin Scorsese and Jim Carrey.
   
Tarantino's march up the red carpet -- flanked by Pitt and his wife Jolie -- for the world premiere of his long-awaited "Inglourious Basterds" on Wednesday provided the biggest celebrity buzz of the 12-day festival.
   
But the director of "Pulp Fiction" divided critics with his war story of Jewish-American soldiers on a mission to murder Nazis.
   
Scandal came in the form of Von Trier's "Antichrist", which provoked fainting, gasps and walk-outs and received an "anti-prize" for misogyny that the festival director angrily denounced as an attempt at censorship.
   
The late Heath Ledger's unfinished stint in Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" was screened out of competition, while "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi returned to horror with his new flick "Drag Me To Hell".

Date created : 2009-05-24

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