South Korea, Germany share key Cannes sidebar prize

21st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk's wrenching cinematic self-portrait and a German drama about the final days of a dying man shared a coveted sidebar prize at Cannes on Saturday, as the festival cruised toward its awards climax.

Iranian dissident Mohammad Rasoulof, 37, won the Un Certain Regard section's best director prize for "Goodbye", but authorities at home kept him from attending the world's top film festival.

The section's jury president, Serbian director Emir Kusturica, announced the winners for best picture, Kim's "Arirang" and "Stopped On Track" by Germany's Andreas Dresen, at a glittering ceremony.

The runner-up award went to Russian film-maker Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Elena" about a docile woman in a relationship with an colder, wealthier man who learns he does not have long to live.

"Arirang", which drew a lengthy standing ovation when it screened during the 12-day event, is an emotionally raw film exercise aimed at curing a crippling bout of "director's block".

The picture shows Kim, who won prizes at Venice and Berlin for "3-Iron" and "Samaritan Girl", living in self-imposed exile and grilling himself on camera about his own perceived failings as a director and a human being.

Accepting the award, Kim sang a few bars from a melancholy folk song about the hills and valleys of life that also serves as the film's title.

"Stopped On Track" follows a healthy 40-year-old who discovers he has only a few months to live after he is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

Determined with his wife and children to live a normal life, he turns to his iPhone to keep an emotional diary, but the decision to care for him at home tears at the family as much as it pulls them together.

Dresen, 47, said the film was inspired by tragic events in his own life.

"Last year was a year of separation and the death of close friends," he said.

"When you make movies, you have the possibility of putting all those emotions in a bottle hopefully. It has reached the Mediterranean and this festival."

Dresen had already scooped up a Jury Coup de Coeur prize in the same section in 2008 for his groundbreaking drama "Cloud 9" about the erotic lives of septuagenarians in eastern Germany.

Rasoulof's wife accepted the directing prize on his behalf after mounting speculation about whether the film-maker, who is appealing a lengthy jail sentence for his work, would be allowed to leave Iran.

"I thank the crew and those who helped this film get here, the festival and the jury," she said, wearing a grey silk coat and with a loose headscarf over her hair.

Two-time Cannes winner Kusturica, 56, said heading the Un Certain Regard jury had been a highlight of his Cannes experience.

"I accepted with great honour because I grew up in the main selection here," he said. "In 25 years coming to this place, I never saw a film here."

The Cannes main competition wrapped up Saturday with the last of the 20 films vying for the prestigious Palme d'Or screening ahead of a gala awards ceremony Sunday.

Hollywood legend Robert De Niro is president of the main jury.

© 2011 AFP

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