'4 Months' takes Palme d'Or; Grand Prix to 'Forest'

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CANNES -- After 12 days, 22 Competition films and 60 years of the Festival de Cannes, Stephen Frears' jury reached its verdict Sunday night, bestowing the Palme d'Or to Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days."

Also from Romania, Cristian Nemescu's "California Dreamin' " won Un Certain Regard prize Saturday.

Wild Bunch is handling international sales for "4 Months" and has already sold the film to IFC in the U.S., the U.K.'s Artifical Eye and Italy's Lucky Red.

The second place Grand Prix went to Japanese underdog "Mogari No Mori" (The Mourning Forest), directed by Naomi Kawase, about an old man and a caretaker at his retirement home struggling to overcome the death of their loved ones.

Julian Schnabel was named best director for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," and Turkey's German-born Fatih Akin won the best screenplay award for "The Edge of Heaven."

Jeon Do-yeon's portrayal of a mother dealing with tragedy earned her the best actress prize for Lee Chang-dong's "Secret Sunshine," and Konstantin Lavronenko took home the best actor award for his role in Andrei Zviaguintsev's Russian entry "The Banishment."

The jury prize was split between Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's "Persepolis" -- a black-and-white animated adaptation of her comic book about growing up during the Iranian Revolution -- and "Stellet Licht," Carlos Reygadas' tale of forbidden love among Mennonite farmers.

The jury gave its 60th Anniversary Prize to Gus Van Sant for his skater drama "Paranoid Park" "for his career and because he made a lovely film," Frears said.

The Camera d'Or, given to the best first film in selection, was awarded to Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen for their Israeli film "Meduzot" (Jellyfish), presented in the Critics Week sidebar. Special mention went to Anton Corbijn's "Control," the Directors' Fortnight winner.

"I haven't felt anything like this since my Bar Mitzvah," Keret said while accepting the award.

"4 Months," Mungiu's second feature following 2002's "Occident," is the director's first official selection in Cannes. The film tells the story of young woman seeking an illegal abortion during the final days of communism in Romania.

"It looks a little like a fairy tale," Mungiu said while receiving his prize. "One year ago, we didn't have an idea for this project. Six months ago we didn't have the money to make it. You don't necessarily need a big budget or a lot of stars to make stories."

Satrapi, whose "Persepolis" will be released stateside by Sony Pictures Classics with the voices of Catherine Deneuve and Gena Rowlands, said: "Even though the story is universal, I share this prize with all Iranians."

Schnabel received butterfly kisses all around as he graced the stage in dark shades to accept his best director award, telling the crowd: "I thought I was making a movie about a paralyzed guy, then I realized I was making a movie about women."

Akin accepted his award by thanking all of his crew members from the cameramen to the lead actors, then added, "I have a message for Turkey: All is one, united we stand, divided we fall."

Before presenting the prize for best actress, Alain Delon requested 25 seconds of applause for Romy Schneider, who died 25 years ago to the day.

"I'm told by you people who come here every year that this has been a terrific festival. On behalf of the jury, the films have been a pleasure to watch," jury president Frears said.

The awards were handed out at a gala ceremony presided over by mistress of ceremonies Diane Kruger ahead of a screening of the Out of Competition film "Days of Darkness," directed by Canadian Denys Arcand. Guests then headed to a closing-night dinner and soiree at La Roseraie to wrap the 60th anniversary celebration of the festival with a night of dancing.
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