The 2011 Cannes film festival has just wrapped up and the Croisette is filled with the sound of (drunken) revelling. We've just come out of the press conferences for the jury and prize winners, which followed hot on the heels of the awards ceremony. Below, we've got the list of winners and some comments from the jury.
This year, the jury was headed by Robert de Niro. His fellow jurors were Chinese producer Nansun Shi, Argentinian actress and producer Martina Gusman, Uma Thurman, Norwegian writer Linn Ullmann, Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To, Jude Law, French director Olivier Assayas and Mahamat Saleh Haroun, Chad-based director.
The Camera D'Or, the prize for the best first-time filmmaker – across all the competitions – went to Pablo Giorgelli, director of the stripped down road movie Las acacias. We interviewed him earlier in the festival and we have to say, it was great to see him collecting his award. He looked truly delighted.
The Jury Prize went to Maïwenn for her drama about a Police Department's Juvenile Protection Unit, Polisse. She also co-wrote the screenplay. The writer/director was overcome by the time she arrived at the podium to collect her prize, heavy breathing as though she'd just run a marathon and barely able to get her words out.
Jospeh Cedar took home the screenwriting prize – though not literally, as he was not at hand to collect his award. His film, Footnote, was about a father/son rivalry: both are eccentric professors; the father wins a major award and his son must deal with his own feelings of envy.
The best actress award was perhaps the big surprise of the night. Kirsten Dunst won for her portrayal of a young woman who knows the planet is doomed in Lars von Trier's Melancholia. Dunst did not make an appearance at the press conference, perhaps fearing she's be subjected to a barrage of questions about her director's earlier comments. Von Trier, of course, was not around to congratulate her, having been banned for the remainder of the festival, though Dunst thanked her director in her acceptance speech. De Niro made it clear that the jury had judged the film on its own merits and that von Trier's “punishment” by the Cannes organisers had not been reflected in their judgement on his film.
The director's prize went to Nicholas Winding Refn for his superb Drive. His “partner in crime” Ryan Gosling accompanied him to the press conference and their double-act was the highlight of the night. Refn called the film his “super-cool Hollywood experience” though said it was a “down-and-dirty Hollywood movie” compared to their planned collaboration on the Logan's Run remake, which is to be produced by Joel Silver. Gosling said he'd “always wanted to do an action movie or a superhero movie” and had approached Winding Refn when a producer gave him the Drive script. Refn compared it to Lee Marvin who came to London to approach John Boorman about directing him in Point Blank. The pair had some fun with some (slightly daft) questions. Will there be a Drive 2? Yes, and apparently it'll feature two drivers. When asked what films they had watched in preparation, Gosling said, “We loved Pretty in Pink but thought it would be awesome if it was more violent.” You can read Paul's Drive review here.
Next up was the prize for best actor, which went to the very charming Jean Dujardin. It was a richly deserved win for his work in The Artist, in which he played a silent film star. The film itself was one of our favourites in competition, a joyful film-lovers' movie. Paul gave it five stars and I'd agree. Check out his review here.
The Grand Prix was shared between two films and, in fact, three directors: Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon A Time In Anatolia and the Dardennes brothers' The Kid with A Bike. The Dardennes are two-time Palme D'Or winners. We interviewed them earlier in the festival and will be publishing that once we're back home. Ceylan said the prize was “beyond my expectations” and said that it might be “the last one [film] for me”.
Finally, the big prize of the night, The Palme D'Or, went to Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. De Niro suggested that it was the film's epic quality that made it seem a natural Palme D'Or winner. Malick, who rarely attends such events, was absent but his producers said, “He wants the work to speak for itself and for it not to be about ego and celebrity”. They added that they'd spoken to him on the phone earlier, when they had an intimation the film might win a prize. Malick said, “If we were to get so lucky, I'd like to thank my parents and wife.” Here's our review.
The jury were a tight-lipped bunch this year. For example, when asked why Cedar's script had been selected, de Niro simply answered, “the majority of us thought it was a very well-written screenplay”. As always, they lamented the films they had not been able to reward. Sean Penn's performance in Sorrentino's This Must be the Place was, said de Niro, “terrific”. Jude Law mentioned Le Havre, Sleeping Beauty, Pater and Habemus Papam as other films they had enjoyed. It was a vintage year from Cannes.