Deauville fetes 'Dead,' Douglas


PARIS -- Though the 33rd Deauville American Film Festival's top prize went to dark drama "The Dead Girl," the festival was alive with the spirit of family throughout its 10-day run.

A special tribute to Michael Douglas celebrated the actor's 40-year career 30 years after his father, Kirk, received the same prize.

As he accepted his award, the younger Douglas thanked not only his famous father but also his mother, Diana. "She was someone who showed me the joy of acting," he said.

The Normandy beaches also played host to a family reunion this year as movie legend Gena Rowlands came to town to support her daughter Zoe Cassavetes' directorial debut, "Broken English." Cassavetes cast her real-life "maman" as the mother of a neurotic, thirtysomething New Yorker who falls surprisingly in love with a quirky Frenchman. The Cassavetes name is no stranger to Deauville; Zoe is proving to be "a woman under the influence" of her late father John's directorial prowess.

There was also a new Affleck in town. Ben's kid brother Casey got everyone talking about his roles in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and brother Ben's directorial debut, "Gone, Baby, Gone," which had its world premiere.

The brothers stood side by side, teary-eyed, as they received a standing ovation after the screening, a moment that was almost as emotional as the harrowing tale of two private detectives searching for a missing little girl in Boston.

Sidney Lumet had the world premiere of his latest feature, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," about two brothers and a small-scale break-in gone horribly awry as a family has to confront its most dangerous demon -- itself.

Family secrets were at the heart of "Imaginary Heroes" and "Death at a Funeral," and the devastating effects of the Iraq war were the subject of family tearjerkers "In the Valley of Elah" and "Grace Is Gone."

Dysfunctional families defined "Ira & Abby," a Woody Allen-esque comedy about two quirky New Yorkers whose love-at-first-sight courtship brings together their hilariously peculiar parents.

Father-son comedy duo Jerry and Ben Stiller brought laughs to Deauville's big screen in "The Heartbreak Kid," directed by fraternal Farrelly's Peter and Bobby. The elder Stiller plays on-screen dad to his offscreen offspring in the remake of the 1973 film.

As the Hollywood elite continue to pass the torch to their rising relatives, Deauville's scenic shores may be seeing the same names and familiar faces, but the new generation is bringing innovative talent to the always adapting festival that may be 33 years old but is certainly aging gracefully.