Kazakh film wins Cannes 'Un Certain Regard'

The first prize in the 'Un Certain Regard' category at Cannes was awarded to 'Tulpan', a film from Kazakhstan. The official competition winners are to be announced Sunday evening. Read Arnab Banerjee's review.




As the world awaits the announcement of the Palme d'Or prize, another award ceremony came to a discreet close on Saturday evening at the Debussy Theatre, next to the Grand Théâtre Lumière. The Un Certain Regard category, initiated as a parallel section at Cannes in 1978, is a section that showcases new and unknown talent, providing a pleasant break from the star system-driven cinema industry. Over the years, the Un Certain Regard category has become an integral part of the Cannes Film Festival


Turkish-German director Fatih Akin, who won the Best Screenplay award in the Official Competition last year with "On the Other Side," headed the jury. This year, the jury decided to award five prizes instead of three, considering the overall excellence of the films presented. 


"Johnny Mad Dog,"  produced by French actor-director Mathieu Kassovitz, won a 'Best Hope' award, while "Tyson", a hard-hitting documentary on boxer Mike Tyson, won a 'Knockout' award. 


The Jury Prize went to Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Tokyo Sonata", and the special 'Coup de Coeur' award was given to German director Andreas Dresen's "Cloud Nine".


Kazakhstan takes home top prize


"Tulpan", a film from Kazakhstan by Sergey Dvortsevoy, was awarded the top prize in the Un Certain Regard Category. The film, which took four years to make, is a moving yet harsh portrayal of nomadic farmers who live on the steppes. With no connection to the outer world except pornographic pictures, a picture of Prince Charles with Princess Diana, and the song 'Rivers of Babylon' by Boney M, the nomad community is completely cut off from the outside world. 


As multinational companies debate the fate of Kazakhstan's oil in conferences in Switzerland, these farmers in the steppes are only concerned about their sheep. Pregnant sheep give birth to lifeless lambs. These sheep become symbols of the intertia that nomadic Kazakhs are subject to. As the country is increasingly wooed for its natural resources, the nomadic communities disintegrate. 


Tulpan, a young woman we never see, is courted by young Asa. But all proves to be in vain, as Tulpan goes away, and Asa's 'love' remains a symbol of a hopeless search for the ideal.


Giving the top prize to "Tulpan" was a courageous decision. The question now is whether the jury for the Official Competition will be as courageous while selecting the Palme d'Or Sunday evening. 





Watch the entire show by clicking "The Cannes Reports" in the right column.




Check out web correspondent Arnab Banerjee’s video blog.



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