Romanian abortion movie wins at death-obsessed Cannes

27th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 27, 2007 (AFP) - A harrowing Romanian film won Cannes' top prize late Sunday, as the world's biggest film festival brought the curtain down on a 12-day run remarkable for its star-studded brightness -- and the death-obsessed darkness of its movies.

CANNES, France, May 27, 2007 (AFP) - A harrowing Romanian film won Cannes' top prize late Sunday, as the world's biggest film festival brought the curtain down on a 12-day run remarkable for its star-studded brightness -- and the death-obsessed darkness of its movies.

"4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" elbowed aside 21 other films to snatch the golden trophy at a glittering ceremony marking the end of the festival's 60th edition.

Multilingual German actress Diane Kruger presided over the event, which was attended by celebrities including Jane Fonda, Karl Lagerfeld, Alain Delon and Michelle Yeoh.

Cristian Mungui, director of the winning movie, accepted the Palme d'Or on stage from 69-year-old US actress Jane Fonda, who spoke in French.

"It looks a little bit to me like (a) fairytale," a softly spoken Mungui said, adding that the triumph showed "you don't necessarily need big budgets and big stars to make stories."

His film evokes the big themes of personal freedom and political repression through a wrenching story about a girl's illegal, backstreet abortion in communist-era Romania.

It beat fare from several veteran directors who have previously picked up Cannes' top prize -- notably the Coen brothers, who presented an existential cowboy film called "No Country for Old Men," Gus Van Sant, who explored urban dislocation in "Paranoid Park," Quentin Tarantino, who brought "Death Proof" to the screen, and Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica, with his colorful Balkan romp "Promise Me This."

The festival's runner-up Grand Prix trophy went to "The Mourning Forest," a low-key tale by Japanese director Naomi Kawase that builds up power as it looks at people haunted by deep personal loss.

Third place, the Jury Prize, was shared by "Persepolis," an autobiographical animation about grim life under the ayatollahs in Iran by French-Iranian debut director Marjane Satrapi, and "Silent Light," a Mexican movie about love, death and faith, by Carlos Reygadas.

"I want to dedicate this prize to all Iranians," Satrapi said.

Jeon Do-yeon, who plays a grief-struck woman dealing with tragedy and faith in a South Korean film titled "Secret Sunshine" picked up the Best Actress award for her performance.

The Best Actor gong was given to Konstantin Lavronenko, the lead of a Russian movie, "The Banishment," which deals with abortion, death and grief.

Julian Schnabel, a US director who made "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," about a French magazine editor who struggled to write a book after being virtually completely paralysed following a stroke, picked up the Best Director award.

Best Script went to "The Edge of Heaven," a touching movie by a German-born Turkish director about death, loss and forgiveness across an East-West divide.

A special prize for the festival's 60th anniversary went to Van Sant, who won the Palme four years ago for "Elephant."

The Cannes jury this year was headed by British director Stephen Frears (who made the award-winning "The Queen"), and included actresses Maggie Cheung of Hong Kong, Toni Colette of Australia, and Turkey's Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk.

They -- and many of the 15,000 festival-goers -- sat through a programme that was dominated by dark themes.

Death figured in all the competition line-up, with tragedy being the dominant treatment in most cases.

Generally, the movies' tales and characters were handled with intense sensitivity by directors, though Satrapi, the Coen brothers, Tarantino and Kusturica offered features that aimed for some comic notes.

Outside of the competition, Michael Moore's new documentary "Sicko" about the deficiencies of the US health system, and "A Mighty Heart" about the widow of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter decapitated by Islamic extremists in 2002, created a stir.

A steady, glittering stream of stars accompanied the festival.

Among the famous who trod the red carpet were Brad Pitt and partner Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Norah Jones, Gong Li and Kylie Minogue.

But while the celebrity wattage was high, several of the A-listers made it clear that they, too, were part of the surge of seriousness that had overtaken Cannes.

DiCaprio presented a documentary he made about the dangers of global warming "The 11th Hour," while Jolie evoked the pain of the woman she played in "A Mighty Heart."

Clooney, Pitt, Damon and the rest of the cast attending a world premiere of "Ocean's Thirteen" held a charity bash to raise money for the Sudanese displaced by the Darfur conflict. Stone held a charity auction to raise money for AIDS research.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Festival de Cannes

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