Polanski Crowned King of Cannes

Holocaust drama wins the Palme d'Or

by empire |
Published on

Roman Polanski walked away from the south of France a very happy man yesterday, having bagged the coveted Palme d'Or at the 55th Cannes Film Festival. His film, The Pianist, is a true story that follows the fate of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a musician who survives the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto during the Holocaust. A deeply personal project for Polanski, the director drew upon his own experiences in the Krakow ghetto. Taking Cannes' second award, the Grand Prix, as well as Best Actress was Aki Kaurismaki's The Man Without A Past, which sees a man arrive in Helsinki only to be attacked and develop amnesia, leaving him utterly clueless about his identity and past. Best Directing honours went to Paul Thomas Anderson for Punch-Drunk Love and South Korean director Im Kwon-Taek for Chihwaseon, while Best Actor was picked up by Belgian actor Olivier Gourmet for his role in The Son. The Screenwriting prize went to Paul Laverty for his work on Ken Loach's Glaswegian tale, Sweet Sixteen and the Jury Prize was deservedly taken by Elia Suleiman's Divine Intervention. All in all a good line-up at this year's festival but, in Empire's humble opinion, the quality of those in competition wouldn't be immediately apparent by taking stock of the trophy-holders in the winners' circle. While Polanski's drama was certainly an obvious choice for the gold, The Man Without A Past or - for some the highlight of the festival - Suleiman's Divine Intervention may well have been more worthy recipients. Also conspicuous by their absence were Jack Nicholson for his stand-out performance in About Schmidt, Mike Leigh, and David Cronenberg for excellent Ralph Fiennes thriller, Spider.

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