France wins big, Italy, Blanchett lose out in Cannes

Sun May 24, 2015 6:35pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

CANNES, France (Reuters) - French film "Dheepan" won the top Palme d'Or prize for director Jacques Audiard at the 68th Cannes International Film Festival on Sunday, crowning a good night for French cinema but a bad one for Italy and actress Cate Blanchett.

The choice of a film that revolves around the lives of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka's civil war moving to France was seen as sending a political message, but the awards overall left some critics and festivalgoers dumbfounded.

"It's extremely disappointing, nobody seems happy," Jay Weissberg, European-based critic for trade publication Variety, told Reuters.

"It's an anti-climactic finish to a festival that was middling to begin with."

Ethan Coen, who along with his brother Joel served as co-president of the jury, defended the jury's choices, especially the Palme d'Or winner.

"Everybody had an enthusiasm for it, to some degree or another we all thought it was a very beautiful movie," he told a press conference.

Actor and jury member Jake Gyllenhaal got a laugh when he interjected: "It's a good prize."

Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes's debut film "Saul Fia" (Son of Saul), which made a huge impact at the festival for its portrayal by non-professional actor Geza Rohrig of a Jewish "Sonderkommando" forced laborer in the Auschwitz concentration camp, took the Grand Prix second prize.   Continued...

Director Jacques Audiard, Palme d'Or award winner for his film "Dheepan", delivers a speech on stage during the closing ceremony of the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 24, 2015.                    REUTERS/Eric Gaillard