“The White Ribbon” was the star of the red carpet Sunday night as Michael Haneke’s black-and-white drama won the Festival de Cannes’ top honor, the coveted Palme d’Or. Jury president Isabelle Huppert presented Haneke with the prize at the traditional closing-night ceremony, held in the Palais des Festivals, as the world’s most famous film festival wrapped its 12-day run.
Huppert insisted on presenting the award herself, marking the first time a jury president has handed out the prize since Clint Eastwood gave the award to Quentin Tarantino for “Pulp Fiction” in 1994.
Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet,” a critical favorite, was blessed with the festival’s prestigious Grand Prix. Willem Dafoe announced the award before Audiard took the stage to a standing ovation.
The evening was particularly sweet for U.S. distributor Sony Pictures Classics, which will release “Ribbon” and “Prophet” stateside. In the case of “Ribbon,” which relies heavily on voice-over narration in German, SPC plans to substitute an English narrator for its U.S. release.
Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” and Park Chan-wook’s Korean vampire film “Thirst” — Focus will release the latter in the U.S. — shared the festival’s double Jury Prize, presented by Italian actress Laura Morante.
This year’s jury dream team also featured Italian actress Asia Argento, Turkish helmer Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-Dong, U.S. director James Gray, U.K. screenwriter Hanif Kureishi, Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, Indian actress Sharmilla Tagore and American actress Robin Wright Penn.
“These were precious moments in the life of an actress,” Huppert said of her deliberations with her jury, adding, “I’m sad that it’s ending.”
Despite the calm throughout the festival’s final day in Cannes, the stars came out for the red carpet event to shake the hands of Thierry Fremaux, despite the notable absence of fest president Gilles Jacob, who was hit by a car earlier in the day and broke his arm.
Isabelle Adjani took the stage to present the Camera d’or Prize for the best first film in selection to Warwick Thornton’s “Samson and Delilah.”
Charlotte Gainsbourg was named best actress for Lars von Trier’s shocking horror flick “Antichrist.”
“I want to thank Thierry Fremaux and the Festival de Cannes for daring to choose films like ‘Antichrist’ for the selection,” Gainsbourg said.
The actress was joined at the ceremony by her husband, actor-director Yvan Attal, as mother Jane Birkin headed south by train to join her daughter to celebrate the win.
Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, aka “the Jew Hunter” in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” took home the best actor prize. Tarantino was notably absent from the ceremony.
Chinese director Lou Ye won the best screenplay award for “Spring Fever.”
Terry Gilliam, in town to present “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” out of competition, presented the prize for best director to Brillante Mendoza for “Kinatay.”
A special Homage Prize was given to Alain Resnais for his latest title in competition, “Les Herbes Folles.” The director asked the cast of “Herbes Folles” to stand up after telling the crowd, “A film doesn’t make itself.”
The Palme d’Or was somewhat of an upset, as festgoers expected Audiard’s “Prophet” to take the title.
“It’s a great way to award Haneke for his life’s work, but the best film in the selection this year was incontestably Jacques Audiard’s ‘A Prophet,’ ” French newspaper Le Parisien’s leading journalist Alain Grasset said in an interview.
The awards were handed out at a gala ceremony presided by French comedian Edouard Baer ahead of a screening of Jan Kounen’s “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky.” Kounen was joined by his lead actors Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen. VIP guests then headed to a closing-night dinner and cocktail in the Palais Salon des Ambassadeurs, followed by a night of dancing at the Majestic beach. (partialdiff)