'Messenger' takes top Deauville prize

Harrison Ford given career tribute as fest winds down

PARIS -- War was the talk of peaceful Normandy seaside town Deauville Sunday night as Oren Moverman's Iraq war drama "The Messenger" took home the grand prize at the 35th annual Deauville American Film Festival's closing ceremonies. A jury presided by Gallic helmer Jean-Pierre Jeunet chose the film among a selection of 11 features in competition at the 10-day fest. The film also took the International Critics prize.

"The Messenger" stars Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson as soldiers re-adjusting to postwar life. The jury prize was shared by Lee Daniels' "Precious" and Cary Joji Fukunaga's "Sin Nombre." Cartier's Revelation Jury, led by French actress-director Maiwenn, picked Lynn Shelton's "Humpday" for the best first film prize. The Michel d'Ornano prize, awarded by France's Anglo-Saxon press, went to French film Lea Fehner's "Qu'un Seule Tienne et Les Autres Suivront" and the Literary Prize to Colum McCann for "Let the Great World Spin."

Despite the lack of star power compared with past years, the Deauville festival enjoyed action-packed opening and closing weekends. Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana headed to the present-day Deauville red carpet for the opening-night premiere of "The Time Traveler's Wife," and Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina joined director Nora Ephron to spice up opening weekend with "Julie & Julia." Matthew Broderick, Steven Soderbergh and Robin Wright Penn were also among notable star appearances.

Andy Garcia headed to town to accept an homage to his acting career before a screening of Raymond De Felitta's "City Island" on Friday night. Business was also on the agenda this year as Garcia joined "City Island's" producers, The Hollywood Reporter, French producers' guild the APC and a melange of U.S. and French producers at the Cartier Villa for lunch on Saturday to discuss the new 20% tax rebate for foreign production in the territory.

French Cultural Minister Frederic Mitterand made an appearance on Saturday night to see the fest's guest of honor, Harrison Ford, receive a tribute to his career. Ford, who arrived with Calista Flockhart, wept as he took the stage during a standing ovation, telling the crowd: "That was a very wonderful bunch of clips. Some of the films I hardly remember, but I still have all the suits." He added, teary-eyed, "The French have always been very kind to Americans, to American films and to me, and I'm very grateful." The homage was followed by a Gala screening of Anne Fletcher's romantic comedy "The Proposal."

The carpets were red, white, blue and orange as France Telecom subsidiary Orange spread color all over town with a lounge at the Hotel Royal that became the fest's media HQ all hours of the day. The Cartier Villa sparkled at night as Ford, Flockhart, Broderick, Garcia and French stars including jury members Dany Boon, Sandrine Kiberlain and Deborah Francois enjoyed champagne and music until the wee hours of the night. The Deauville American Film Festival ran Sept. 4-13.