AMOUR, a quiet and emotionally devastating story of the bonds of love in a long term marriage and the precariousness of that emotion in the relationships with children, was the winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. The film, a departure for Austrian director Michael Haneke, marks the filmmaker’s second Cannes prize, winning in 2009 for his previous film THE WHITE RIBBON. It was rumored that the
Cannes jury would not choose the film, undoubtedly the critical favorite of this year’s festival, because Haneke had won so recently. However, the quality of the film, the stirring performances of its cast (including veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emanuelle Riva as the aging couple and Isabelle Huppert as their emotionally hungry daughter) and the strong response to the film overruled such petty concerns. This victory makes Haneke only the second director to win the top Cannes award for back-to-back films (the only other director to do so was Danish auteur Bille August for PELLE THE CONQUEROR in 1988 and THE BEST INTENTIONS in 1992). The film will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in the United States later this year, with a campaign already in place for Oscar consideration.
Acting award honors went to Danish actor Mads Mikkelson for his role as a kindergarten teacher accused of child abuse in dogme director Thomas Vinterberg’s well-received THE HUNT, and to Romanian actors Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan for playing teenage girls whose friendship is tested when one enters a convent in director Cristian Mingui’s BEYOND THE HILLS, which also won for the writer/director the Best Screenplay prize. Mexican director Carlos Reygadas won the Best Director prize for his surreal and reportedly autobiographical POST TENEBRAS LUX, about an urban family who confront their demons when they move to the Mexican countryside. The second and third-place awards, the Grand Prix and the Prix du Jury, went to more lighthearted films. REALITY, Italian director Matteo Garrone’s film about a fishmonger obsessed with getting on a reality television show won the Grand Prix. The film stirred some interesting controversy when it was discovered that its lead is an imprisoned felon who is in jail for murder, who was given permission to shoot the film during the day, provided he returned to his cell each night. British director Ken Loach, a longtime Cannes favorite, won the Prix du Jury for a rare comedy THE ANGELS’ SHARE. The main competition contained an unusually large number of English-language films, eight, but THE ANGELS’ SHARE was the only film in English to win an award. Shut out were such films as David Cronenberg’s COSMOPOLIS, Andrew Dominik’s KILLING THEM SOFTLY, Jeff Nichols’ MUD, Walter Salles’ ON THE ROAD, John Hillcoat’s LAWLESS, Lee Daniels’ THE PAPERBOY and the Festival opener, Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM.
The prestigious Camera d’Or, which goes to a first-time director, was warmly received by American indie Benh Zeitlin for the Sundance sensation BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. The film, which won top awards at the Sundance Film Festival and is on track to be one of the most intriguing indie releases of the year, will be in U.S. theaters this summer via distributor Fox Searchlight. The film was not in the main competition at Cannes, but the Camera d’Or is open to directorial debuts in all sections of the festival, including Un Certain Regard, which screened the film as its European premiere. In the Un Certain Regard section of the Festival, the Mexican film DESPUES DE LUCIA by director Michel Franco, was named Best Film. The film deals with a young woman and her father who move to a new town, leaving their old lives behind. A special jury prize went to the French film LE GRAND SOIR by co-directors Gustave de Kervern and Benoir Delepine, and a special jury mention to DJRECA (Children of Sarajevo) by Bosnian director Aida Begic.