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Cannes has reached 60, the age range of many baby boomers, and is again taking itself seriously, but probably needs a logistics makeover, reports Jimmy Thomson.

Call it doom and gloom, or a European rather than Hollywood sensibility but you could say that, in it’s 60th year, the Cannes film festival decided to once again take itself seriously. No Tarantino or even Coen brothers splatterfest could wrest the Palm d’Or from the grasp of a harrowing Romanian film about abortion and exploitation in the bleak, dying days of Communism.

Cristian Mungiu, director of the winning movie 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, accepted the Palme d'Or from screen legend Jane Fonda in a glittering (is there any other kind?) ceremony to mark the end of the 12-day film feast. All Competition awards went to filmmakers outside the US, except a one-off 60th Anniversary gong to Gus van Sant. But was the festival all that great, really?

The oft-repeated opinion that there was a better quality of films around this year is unlikely to impress those who booed We Own The Night, yawned through My Blueberry Nights and scratched our heads at Paranoid Park and Death Proof.
If anything, self-indulgence seemed to be the key, with director after director taking the view that if what works for them doesn’t work for us, then it’s our fault. Veteran Robert Duvall, in one interview, derided blockbuster movies as being “Turds tied up in a ribbon” – but at least they have a ribbon.

There were exceptions, of course. Control – the story of the life and death of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis – is a great little movie and the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men sees them producing fireworks again after a few damp squibs.

The Band’s Visit – the story of an Egyptian police band that gets lost in Israel got a deserved five-minute standing ovation while Persepolis, a black-and-white animated feature by Iran's Marjane Satrapia, based on her comic books – sorry, illustrated novels – won a lot of fans.

Higher quality or not, Cannes seems to have reached critical mass with the sheer numbers of movies and movie goers determined to see them. An overhaul of the logistics will be required if Cannes’ film festival crown isn’t to seem a little tarnished next time around.

At the brief jury press conference after the awards ceremony, jury president Stephen Frears “slithered through questions about internal jury dissension via puckish humor,” as Todd McCarthy of Variety reports. “Asked about their decision-making process, the British helmer retorted, "People are very mutinous up here. They wouldn't do what I told them, so I didn't try to." Quizzed about why they bypassed giving a prize to the widely acclaimed Javier Bardem on "No Country for Old Men," Frears deadpanned, "He's terrible, absolutely dreadful." Pause, then, "He's a wonderful actor. Why did we not give it to Javier? He owes me 500 pounds."

Fellow juror Michel Piccoli admitted, "There was no unanimity. It's impossible, ridiculous. To the contrary !" Sarah Polley, one of four actresses on the jury (she also just directed her first film), allowed that, "I've never seen so many people listen to each other so closely." As to the special 60th anniversay award, Toni Collette insisted that, "We wanted to give the prize to someone whose body of work was rather incredible. We all felt very strongly about Gus."

Palme d’Or: "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days," Cristian Mungiu, (Romania)
Grand Prix: "The Mourning Forest," Naomi Kawase, (France-Japan)
60th Anniversary Prize : Gus Van Sant ("Paranoid Park," France-U.S.)
Screenplay: Fatih Akin ("The Edge of Heaven," Germany-Turkey)
Director: Julian Schnabel ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," France)
Actor: Konstantin Lavronenko ("The Banishment," Russia)
Actress: Jeon Do-yeon ("Secret Sunshine," South Korea)
Jury Prize (shared) "Persepolis" (Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud, France-U.S.) "Silent Light" (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico-France-Netherlands)

Palme d’Or: "Watching It Rain" (Elisa Miller, Mexico)
Special Mentions: "Run" (Mark Albiston, New Zealand) "Grandma" (Anthony Chen, Singapore)

Grand Prix : "California Dreamin’ (Endless) (Cristian Nemescu, Romania)
Special Jury Prize: "Actresses" (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, France)
Coup de Coeur Award: "The Band’s Visit" (Eran Kolirin, Israel-U.S.-France)

Camera d’Or: "Jellyfish" (Etgar Keret, Shira Geffen, Israel-France)
Special Mention: "Control" (Anton Corbijn, U.K.-Australia-Japan)

First Prize: "Now Everybody Seems to be Happy" (Gonzalo Tobal, Argentina)
Second Prize: "Way Out" (Chen Tao, China)
Third Prize: (shared) "A Reunion" (Hong Sung-hoon, South Korea) "Minus" (Pavle Vuckovic, Serbia)

Grand Prix: "XXY" (Lucia Puenzo, Argentina-Spain-France)
SACD Prize: "Jellyfish."
ACID/CCAS Support Award: "XXY."
OFAJ/TV5Monde (Very)Young Critic Award: "Jellyfish."
Canal Plus Award for Best Short Film: "Madame Tutli-Putli" (Chris Lavis, Maciek Szczerbowski, Canada)
Kodak Discovery Award for Best Short Film: "Um ramo" (Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra, Brazil)

Ecumenical Award: "The Edge of Heaven."
Fipresci Awards (intl. critics’ assn.) "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days" (Competition) "The Band’s Visit" (Un Certain Regard) "Her Name Is Sabine" (Directors’ Fortnight)

UNOFFICIAL AWARD The Haircut, directed by 2005 graduate of Sydney College of the Arts, Carlo Ledesma, won the Short Film Corner award. The film tells the story of a barber who is confronted with a bald customer's request for a haircut. It was named Best Film by the Mini-Movie International Channel, an award worth 10,000 euros. "I've always been fascinated by barber shops," said Ledesma. "It's an emperor's new clothes story." The film, with an almost all-SCA crew, earlier this year won Best Film Score at the Bondi Film Festival. The prize money (about $16,000) will fund Ledesma's next film The Last One, a half-hour action drama he describes as "Run Lola Run meets Collateral."

Published May 28, 2007

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Romanian director Cristian Mungiu - winner of the Palme d'Or for his film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Cannes 2007 - Postcards
Cannes 2007 - Preview

Best director: Julian Schnabel - pictured with actress Anne Consigny (Photo IndieWire)

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

No Country for Old Men

We Own the Night

Paranoid Park - Gus van Sant

My Blueberry Nights

Un Certain Regard

Director's Fortnight

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