Tag Archives: Camera d’Or

Closing Ceremonies: Cannes 2008

Film-geek Francophiles everywhere rejoice!

For the first time since 1987, a French film, “The Class” — a drama about a teacher challenged by his tough, inner-city students in one of Paris’ roughest junior high schools — has taken home the prestigious Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Rock on, Frenchies!

And that was the first of many surprising wins at this afternoon’s closing ceremonies, where the Jury seemed to take iconoclastic Jury President Sean Penn’s recent statements to French daily Le Monde to heart.

Urging his fellow jurors to “do just the opposite” of the Oscars “where manipulation and very good marketing are rewarded” Penn implored the Cannes jury to honor compelling, unconventional films instead, and man alive, did they take his advice to heart!

And not only are the winners interesting and totally unique — I’m not entirely sure what short film winners “Megatron” and “Jerrycan” are about, but cool titles! — but the presenters were even cooler.

Not only did two-time Oscar-winner Robert DeNiro hand out the award for the Palm d’Or to director Laurent Cantet (he’s the grey-haired dude in the pics with his “The Class” cast, above), but legendary expatriate — a previous Palm d’Or and Oscar-winner for “The Pianist” — director Roman Polanski presented the Grand Prix award to Italy’s Matteo Garrone for “Gomarra”. Cool!

And while I’m sure conspiracy theorists will have a field day with the fact that two of Monsieur Penn’s famous friends took home major awards — Benecio Del Toro for Best Actor in Steven Soderberg’s four hour-plus “Che” and Special Jury Award winner Clint Eastwood for his upcoming film “Changeling” — I like to think the jury did the right thing.

So, check out the complete list (and mad links!) of 2008’s Cannes winners below, and until next year’s shiny festival on the Riviera…vive le France!

PALME D’OR
“The Class” directed by Laurent Cantet

SPECIAL JURY AWARDS
Catherine Deneuve and Clint Eastwood

GRAND PRIZE
“Gomorra” directed by Matteo Garrone

BEST DIRECTOR
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, for “Three Monkeys”

BEST SCREENPLAY
Brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, for “Lorna’s Silence”

BEST ACTOR
Benicio Del Toro, in “Che”

BEST ACTRESS
Sandra Corveloni, in “Linha de Passe”

CAMERA D’OR
“Hunger” directed by Steve McQueen

CAMERA D’OR SPECIAL MENTION
“Everybody Dies But Me” by Valeria Gaï Guermanika

BEST SHORT FILM
“Megatron” by Marian Crisan

SHORT FILM SPECIAL MENTION
“Jerrycan” by Julius Avery

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“Il Divo” by Paolo Sorrentino

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Confessions of a Cannes nerd…

Judging from my last couple of posts, you’ve probably already figured this out, but, for the record…yes, I am a total Cannes Film Festival nerd. Sure, I get excited about Sundance and Toronto and even the Los Angeles Film Festival — the only one I’ve ever actually attended! — but nothing for me is as exciting as Cannes.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because those cinema-mad Frenchies are such big fans of some of my favorite writers and directors.

Only a handful of American films have ever won the Palm d’or, and almost across the board, they were made by some of the coolest, most idiosyncratic filmmakers in Hollywood. Robert Altman (“Mash”), Martin Scorcese (“Taxi Driver”), Francis Ford Coppolla (“Apocalypse Now”), Bob Fosse (“All That Jazz”), the Coen Brothers (“Barton Fink”), Quentin Tarrantino (“Pulp Fiction”) and David Lynch (“Wild at Heart”) are just a few of the American winners to date, and the list of cool foreign films that snagged the top prize is even more impressive.

Unlike the Oscars, who’s crusty old members will throw a Best Picture Award at bloated schlock like “Crash”, Cannes juries are more discriminating and the movies they screen and honor with awards at the festival are much more interesting because of it.

For instance, aside from a Best Original Song nomination for Bjork, Oscar voters totally ignored modern classics like “Paris, Texas” and “Dancer in the Dark”, but not Cannes, baby. “Texas” and “Dancer” both won the Palm in their respective years and the Cannes jury even gave Björk a well-deserved Best Actress award.

And one of my all-time favorite writer/directors, Jim Jarmusch — who shockingly, has never even been nominated for an Oscar! — has been in the running for the Palm d’Or a whopping six times. And that’s just the nominations, Jarmusch’s list of Cannes wins could fill books.

Aside from taking home the lesser, but still prestigious, Camera d’or for his seminal “Stranger Than Paradise”, Jarmusch also won a Grand Jury award for “Broken Flowers”, a short-film Palm d’or for “Coffee and Cigarettes III” and a special award for “Best Artistic Contribution” for his seriously-underrated “Mystery Train”. As my French friends would say…incroyable!

And the writing awards at Cannes are even more eclectic. They doesn’t give out a screenplay award every year, but when they do, the juries at Cannes pick some really amazing scripts…stuff that is often totally overlooked by other festivals, the Academy and hell, even the WGA.

Genre-bending classics like “Nurse Betty”, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”, “Henry Fool”, “Volver” and even James Schamus’s pitch-dark swinger dramedy “The Ice Storm” are just a few of the rocking good screenplays to win at the Cannes Film Festival.

So, while I haven’t ever climbed the grand staircase at the Palais du Cinema in real life, I have followed the festival for years from abroad, and man alive, what a nerdtastic trip it’s been!

Vive le cinema! Vive le Festival de Cannes!

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