60th CANNES INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Cannes, France. May 16-27. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
I ran into Klaus Eder, the president of the FIPRESCI jury, at the announcement of the FIPRESCI prizes at Cannes on Saturday. He ccommented that as good as Cristian Mungiu 's tough, thoughtful Romanian drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Day 3) was, it was a slightly obvious choice for the FIPRESCI prize - meaning austere, a little bleak and formally disciplined.
The story of two young college students in the last years of Communism in Romania, one of whom needs an abortion, it's the sort of film that wins critics' prizes and then spends the year on the festival circuit while people worry about no one seeing it.
Then, on Sunday evening, it won the Palme d'Or, a startling choice for exactly the reasons it was an obvious decision for FIPRESCI. The two juries seldom agree.
At a Cannes where new filmmakers rubbed up against usual suspects, Mungiu made his debut in the Competition, beating out such familiar faces and popular possibilities as the Coen brothers, Wong Kar-wai and Emir Kusturica . Kusturica's Promise Me This was frozen out by the jury, the first time in five trips to Cannes the Serbian auteur's gone home without some sort of prize.
Some films quickly developed strong popular followings, and there was something of a changing of the guard on the jury, headed by British director Stephen Frears . The winners were a striking assortment of new faces; the directors of the Palme d'Or, Grand Prix and Jury Prix films have made a total of five features among them.
The acting prizes also went to new faces. As always, the jury members were terrible guests - the only prize won by a French film went to its American director. No French film has won the Palme since Maurice Pialat's Sous Le Soleil De Satan in 1987, when the audience at the awards ceremony booed the selection.
The 60th Cannes Film Festival was remarkably strong in at least three sections. And this is the second year in a row that the Palme winner has screened at the beginning of the festival. Opening Thursday never seemed like a power spot on the schedule until now.
And the winners are...
PALME D'OR 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
GRAND PRIX The Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase)
60TH ANNIVERSARY AWARD Gus Van Sant, sort of for Paranoid Park, sort of for his career
BEST ACTOR Konstantin Lavronenko (The Banishment)
BEST ACTRESS Jeon Do-yeon (Secret Sunshine)
BEST DIRECTOR Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell And The Butterfly)
BEST SCREENPLAY Fatih Akin ( The Edge Of Heaven)
JURY PRIZE Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud), Still Light (Carlos Reygadas)