The jury at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival has handed out the awards generously, to a wide variety of films. But their choices bring excitement to what has seemed, to this blog-reader from the other side of the globe, like a rather uneventful festival.
That’s not to say that things went without incident. Lars Von Trier stirred up a ruckus with his new film Antichrist, which was loudly booed and mocked, and described as “torture porn.” Full of graphic violence and sex, as well as talking foxes and other surreal and nightmarish visions, the film starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg seemed a revelation to a few, and an abomination to many. Blogger Jeffrey Wells described it as “easily one of the biggest debacles in Cannes Film Festival history and the complete meltdown of a major film artist in a way that invites comparison to the sinking of the Titanic.” But then the jury gave Gainsbourg the Best Actress award.
Perhaps a bigger surprise: Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, which received disappointingly unenthusiastic reviews, still claimed the Best Actor award for the performance of Christoph Waltz.
And how about this? Director Brillante Mendoza turned in Kanatay, which Roger Ebert condemned as the worst film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival. (The only film to earn that kind of loathing from Ebert at previous Cannes fests was Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny.) The Cannes jury gave Mendoza their Best Director award.
The award that made me cheer, being a great admirer of certain films of Michael Haneke (Code Unknown, Time of the Wolf, Cache), was the Palme d’Or, which was given to Haneke’s lastest: The White Ribbon. I can’t wait to see it.
The Jury was led by Isabelle Huppert, and included Asia Argento, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, James Gray, Hanif Kureishi, Lee Chang-dong, Shu Qi, Sharmila Tagore and Robin Wright Penn.
For more thorough coverage of the awards, check in at David Hudson’s incomparable IFC Daily blog.