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Cannes Film Festival

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Cannes: The End

Posted on Thursday May 28, 2009, 08:52 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Cannes: The End

The awards are over, and who would have thought that The White Ribbon would win? Well, most people really. I would have gone for it myself, except that Lars Von Trier was still around on Saturday afternoon, which is often a sign that the filmmaker has been tipped off about a possible win. As it was, his surreal, brilliant Antichrist only won the best actress award, for Charlotte Gainsbourg, and she looked visibly moved at the closing ceremony. Other than that, the awards went pretty much as I thought; it was only ever really between Michael Haneke and Von Trier for the Palme D'Or. A Prophet got the Grand Prix, Christoph Waltz took best actor (“You gave me back my vocation,” he told Tarantino from the stage), Alain Resnais received a special honorary award, and Andrea Arnold and Park Chan-Wook shared a jury prize for Fish Tank and Thirst respectively.

The only what-the-f... came with the best director prize, which went to Brillanta Mendoza, whose film Kinatay was, ironically, the most rubbished film in the entire competition. Personally, I'd have given that to Gaspar Noe for his sensational Enter The Void (pictured). I don't use that word lightly; his latest film is a complete sensory experience that looks and feels like a drug trip. It begins with a first-person camera sequence, in which we see life in Tokyo through the eyes of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) a smalltime drug dealer, and by this I mean literally – it's like the video for Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy, complete with blinking. Oscar gets shot after being busted by the local cops, and as he dies, he experiences all the stages of the afterlife, as described in the Tibetan Book Of The Dead. First he sees his own life in flashback, then he finds out the consequences of his tragic demise, and finally he experiences a long series of hallucinations before being reincarnated.

Which would be mad enough in itself, but the USP of Enter The Void is its brilliant technique. The whole thing is filmed from the viewpoint of Oscar's drifting, ghostly body: the camera yo-yos up and own through walls and ceilings, sometimes seeming to travel through the power grid and at one point even soaring to join the passengers of an aeroplane flying overheard. In between, there are frequent fades, long, psychedelic interludes and lots of Noe's trademark stroboscopic flourishes.

But although it's highly experimental, mostly abstract (even if there is a clear narrative of sorts) and, at 2hrs 40, very, very long for that kind of thing, it has a very strange and haunting beauty that stays with you long after the lights go back up. After this film, I felt I needed to find my land legs again, and it was the perfect high note on which to leave the Croisette. Cannes this year was about masters, and to varying degrees they all delivered. And, as always, I'm already looking forward to next year.

The Cannes Film Festival 2009 winners in full:


Palme d’Or

“The White Ribbon” (Michael Haneke, Germany-France-Austria-Italy)

Grand Prix

“A Prophet” (Jacques Audiard, France)

Lifetime achievement award

Alain Resnais, “Wild Grass” (France)


Brillante Mendoza (“Kinatay,” France-Philippines)

Jury prize

“Fish Tank” (Andrea Arnold, U.K.), “Thirst” (Park Chan-wook, South Korea-U.S.)


Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds” (U.S.-Germany)


Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Antichrist” (Denmark-Germany-France-Sweden-Italy-Poland)


Mei Feng, “Spring Fever” (Hong Kong-France)


Main Prize

“Dogtooth” (Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece)

Jury Prize

“Police, Adjective” (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)

Special Prize

“No One Knows About Persian Cats” (Bahman Ghobadi, Iran), “Father of My Children” (Mia Hansen-Love, France)


Camera d’Or

“Samson and Delilah” (Warwick Thornton)

Special Mention

“Ajami” (Scandar Copti, Yaron Shani, Israel-Germany)

Critics’ Week Grand Prix

“Farewell Gary” (Nassim Amamouche, France)



“The White Ribbon” (Michael Haneke, Germany-Austria-France-Italy)

Un Certain Regard

“Police, Adjective” (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)

Directors’ Fortnight

“Amreeka” (Cherien Dabis, Canada-Kuwait-U.S.)


Palme d’Or

“Arena” (Joao Salaviza, Portugal)

Special Mention

“The Six Dollar Fifty Man” (Mark Albiston, Louis Sutherland, New Zealand)


First Prize

“Baba” (Zuzana Kirchnerova-Spidlova)

Second Prize

“Goodbye” (Song Fang)

Third Prize

“Diploma” (Yaelle Kayam)

“Don’t Step Out of the House” (Jo Sung-hee)


“Looking for Eric” (Ken Loach, U.K.-France-Italy-Belgium-Spain)


Aitor Berenguer, sound mixer (“Map of the Sounds of Tokyo,” Spain)

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1 stevos
Posted on Monday May 25, 2009, 11:52
Cannot wait for Enter The Void- Glad you liked it Damon!

Can't believe Michael Haneke won the Palm D'Or, with another impossibly obscure film- maybe it shouldn't have been Antichrist- but it probably should have been Audiard's A Prophet.

Cheers for all your hard work, Empire team!

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