The 61st annual Cannes Film Festival closed on Sunday, when the jury, with Sean Penn presiding, announced the winners. Here they are:
PALME D’OR FOR BEST FILM
The Class (Entre les murs), directed by Laurent Cantet
In The Class, Cantet portrays a Paris junior high school teacher and his students over the period of one year. Starring François Bégaudeau as the teacher, the two-hour classroom drama is based on an autobiographical work by Bégaudeau, who plays himself in the film.
Cantet cast his movie after holding a year-long weekly workshop for kids aged 13-16 at a school not far from Paris. The 24 students who stuck with the program ended up being in the film.
The Class was described by Cannes jury members as “high cinema you can share with a young audience” (Alfonso Cuarón) and “virtually a seamless film… everything you want a film to give you… all the performances: magic. All of the writing: magic” (Sean Penn).
Curiously, it is the first French film to win the Palme d’Or in 21 years.
THE GRAND PRIX (second place)
Directed by Matteo Garrone, Gomorra is a fictional expose of the Mafia in Naples. It is based on a book by Roberto Saviano.
JURY PRIZE (third place)
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino and starring Toni Servillo, Il Divo is a caricature-style biopic of Giulio Andreotti, a seven-time Italian prime minister.
Catherine Deneuve (A Christmas Tale)
Clint Eastwood (Changeling)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Three Monkeys)
The story of an imprisoned man whose wife and son find ways to make money while he is gone, Three Monkeys is a study of corruption both within a family and a business.
Benicio del Toro (Che)
Steven Soderbergh’s Che, a four and a half hour long biopic of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, has not been met with great reviews, but the jury, as well as critics and audiences, agree that del Toro’s performance in the movie was superb.
The film follows Che Guevara during his two rebel campaigns in Cuba and Bolivia.
Sandra Corveloni (Linha de passe)
Linha del Passe, directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, is a Brazilian film about a pregnant single mother (Corveloni) who is trying to keep her family together.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Lorna’s Silence)
Lorna’s Silence is a crime drama that follows a young Albanian immigrant in Belgium.
The FIPRESCI International Federation of Film Critics award
Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s feature portrays an incestuous relationship between two siblings that ends in a tragedy on a river delta.
Helmed by first-time director Steve McQueen, the film deals with the hunger strike of imprisoned IRA militant Bobby Sands in 1981.
Directed by Belgian Bouli Lanners, Eldorado is a pastoral road movie set in Belgium.
“I think it will find its audience without us,” Sean Penn said of the Israeli documentary, which deals with the massacres in Palestinian refugee camps in the early 1980s.
The two movies that will also not have trouble finding audiences are Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, both screened out of competition this year.