For 58 years, film fans, industry insiders and movie critics from around the world have migrated to the Cannes Film Festival to get a first glimpse at the future of filmmaking. This past weekend, however, the Cannes jurors aimed their love at some familiar faces as they practically stood on the banks of the Mediterranean and shouted, "Vive le veterans!"
Well-respected international names including Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Jarmusch and Robert Rodriguez took home several of the festival's major prizes, while all-important critical buzz was bestowed on non-competing films like "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" and the Val Kilmer/ Robert Downey Jr. noir revival film "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang." Other victors included Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne and Wang Xiaoshuai, well-respected film festival veterans whose names aren't as familiar to American audiences.
Jones, the 58-year-old, no-nonsense star best known for corralling aliens in "Men in Black," ruled the red carpet with a rare double win for his directorial debut, "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada." The film, a modern-day reinvention of the Western, tells the story of a ranch foreman's quest to give a friend's hastily buried body a proper farewell. Jones rode off into the sunset with the Best Actor award, while Mexican screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga took home the top prize for the film's script.
Jarmusch, the quirky director of such underground classics as "Down by Law," "Dead Man" and 2003's "Coffee and Cigarettes," won the Grand Prix award for his Bill Murray comedic drama "Broken Flowers." The movie tells the story of a lifetime lothario (Murray) who begins to suspect he may have an unintended son somewhere in the world searching for him. Co-starring Julie Delpy, Sharon Stone and indie darling Chloë Sevigny, the film will be released by Focus Features in August.
The Grand Prix is typically viewed as the runner-up award (much like Best Screenplay at the Oscars), which put "Flowers" one step beneath Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's "The Child." The film, whose Palme d'Or victory marked the second in just over a half decade for the filmmaking brothers (after 1999's "Rosetta"), is about an irresponsible young man who sells his lover's baby and then tries to recover it on the black market.
The festival's jury prize was awarded to acclaimed Chinese director Xiaoshuai, whose "Shanghai Dreams" tells the story of a 19-year-old girl dealing with the Chinese government's encouraged relocation of citizens to destitute regions of the country.
Writer/director Robert Rodriguez scored a technical award for his comic-book breakthrough "Sin City," while Gus Van Sant's "Last Days" took home a similar award for peripherally telling the story of doomed rocker Kurt Cobain. Some of the loudest noise at Cannes, however, was reserved for two non-competition films that drew the all-powerful prize: word of mouth. "Sith" and "Kiss, Kiss," one a confirmed blockbuster and the other a hopeful that comes from the "Lethal Weapon" team of writer/director Shane Black and producer Joel Silver. The latter is scheduled to be released in the U.S. in October.
This year's competition jury, led by Serbian director Emir Kusturica, was as notable for its prize distribution as it was for its omissions. Atom Egoyan, Wim Wenders and David Cronenberg, all debuting films highly anticipated by the Cannes crowd, were shut out. Similarly, Lars von Trier's "Manderlay" had a hard time finding any love after "Dogville," the film's similarly American-bashing predecessor, became the talk of Cannes just two years ago.
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