Even though the favourite took the top prize, this year’s festival held some surprises – among them the Jury Prize for Ken Loach.
His victory was greeted with acclaim but an understandable lack of surprise: Amour had been hotly tipped ever since it unspooled on the fifth day of the festival.
The jury, presided over by former Palme d’Or winner Nanni Moretti , gave the chief award to Haneke, saying the jury was not unanimous on any of the awards, but that many of the contending films were “more in love with their style than their characters”; this, presumably, was where Haneke differed.
Amour, which stars French veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as well as Isabelle Huppert, describes the relationship between an elderly married couple when one of them is incapacitated by a stroke.
The Palme d’Or is Haneke’s second; his last was only three years ago for The White Ribbon. In this he joins a select company, including Emir Kusturica and the Dardenne brothers.
The Austrian director accepted the award in his characteristically low-key way, saying: “It’s a harsh thing to have to contend with. It’s something I had to contend with in my own family, and that’s why I started to make this film.”
Haneke also mentioned his own wife: “This film is an illustration of the promise we made to each other, if either one of us finds ourselves in the situation that is described in the film.”
The Grand Jury prize, Cannes’ second most prestigious award, was given to Matteo Garrone , the Italian director whose film Reality explored the effect of reality TV. Garrone’s award was genuinely unexpected, perhaps reflecting the common cultural ground between him and the jury president.
British cinema scored a pleasant surprise as the bronze-medal Jury Prize went to Ken Loach ‘s The Angels’ Share, a whisky heist comedy set in Scotland. Loach, who is held in high esteem on the European festival circuit, took the opportunity to affirm his opposition to Europe-wide austerity economic policies when accepting his award; he elaborated on the issue afterwards in the winners’ press conference.
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