Austrian director Michael Haneke has picked up the Cannes Film Festival’s top honour for the second time with Amour – Love - the story of an elderly couple facing the inescapable march of death.
Haneke joins an elite group of two-time winners of the coveted Palme d’Or at the world’s biggest film festival following his 2009 triumph with The White Ribbon.
Haneke’s moving tale, set inside a Paris apartment and following a man caring for his ailing wife, reduced audiences to tears. The award underlined the 70-year-old’s reputation as one of the greatest directors working today ::::
“My films are intended as polemical statements against the American ‘barrel down’ cinema and its dis-empowerment of the spectator. They are an appeal for a cinema of insistent questions instead of false (because too quick) answers, for clarifying distance in place of violating closeness, for provocation and dialogue instead of consumption and consensus.”
“I must say I cried a lot,” fashion designer and jury member Jean Paul Gaultier told a news conference. I realised that maybe to be on the jury was not so easy because you have to have a lot of emotions sometimes that are strong and make you hurt. But I love to be hurt in that way.” Haneke said.
Amour marked new territory for Haneke, whose previous films explored darker themes.
“The film talks about love,” Haneke told a press conference after receiving the Palme d’Or amid loud cheers at the awards ceremony.
“Journalists always try to stick a label on directors and say, ‘Well, he is a specialist in this or an expert in that’. For a long time, I’ve been the ‘expert’ in violence.”
Amour also won plaudits for its two main actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, both in their 80s.
The Grand Prix runner-up prize was awarded to Reality, Matteo Garrone’s examination of society’s obsession with celebrity and reality television.
Its central character Luciano was played by Aniello Arena, an Italian serving a lengthy prison sentence who was allowed out of jail on day release to shoot the movie.
Two other previous Palme d’Or winners picked up prizes.
British director Ken Loach won the Jury third prize for his charming Scottish whisky caper The Angels’ Share, while Romania’s Cristian Mungiu scooped the screenplay honour for Beyond the Hills about a real-life exorcism gone wrong.
His two young stars, Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan, shared the best actress honour, while Danish star Mads Mikkelsen scooped the best actor prize for his portrayal of a man wrongly accused of child abuse in the harrowing drama The Hunt.
“I’m normally a very cool person but this time I could hardly say anything,” said Mikkelsen, who was close to tears as he collected his award.
Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas won the best director category for Post Tenebras Lux, a dreamlike exploration of the undercurrent of menace within Mexican society today.
Amour by Michael Haneke (Austria)
Carlos Reygadas (Mexico) for Post Tenebras Lux
Jointly awarded to Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan in Beyond the Hills
Mads Mikkelsen in The Hunt
Beyond the Hills by Cristian Mungiu (Romania)
Reality by Matteo Garrone (Italy)
The Angel’s Share by Ken Loach (Britain)
For a full list, check: www.festivalcannes.fr