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Jean Dujardin

Cannes 2011 : The Tree of Life, Kirsten Dunst and Jean Dujardin win top honours

By Matthieu Boisseau

No one could possibly disagree : it has been a fantastic year on the Croisette, with superb films and a wide range of glamorous stars. Here is the list of the prestigious winners who were awarded by the nine-member jury headed by Robert De Niro.


Palme d'Or


The Tree of Life directed by Terrence Malick


Renowned American director Terrence Malick, who has made only five films during his 40-year career was given the prestigious award for "The Tree of Life", a drama starring Sean Penn and Brad Pitt which was shot three years ago. It is the first time an American film has won La Palme d'Or at Cannes since Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" in 2004.

The director had already won the prize for Best Director on his last trip to Cannes in 1979 for "Days of Heaven". Terrence Malick is reputedly shy and scared of press, as he never accepts interviews with journalists and rarely makes public appearances.



Best Director

Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn


Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn


This violent thriller set in Los Angeles was inspired in part by the Brothers Grimm. Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, whose father Anders Refn is a major figure in Denmark's film industry, shoots his scenes in chronological order, arguing that "Drive" "dictated the way it wants to be made".





Jury Prize


Polisse directed by Maiwenn



Filmmaker Maiwenn's film with a social conscience was given the Jury Prize for its brutal and emotionally compelling film Polisse. The film is a poignant depiction of a Parisian police squad. It distinguishes itself with its accomplished cast that includes ganster rapper and repeatedly-convicted Joeystarr, who plays.....a policeman.



Grand Prix


Le gamin au vélo directed by the Dardenne brothers


Double Palme d’Or winners for Rosetta and L’Enfant, the Belgian Dardenne brothers won the Grand Prix with the story of an abandoned 11-year-old who turns to a hairdresser for comfort.



Once Upon a Time in Anatolia directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan


Turkish writer-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan presents a long, slow and hypnotic film that explores human condition. He is used to Cannes' honours, having already won the Grand Jury Prize in 2003 for Distant, and the best director award in 2008 for Three Monkeys.


Best Actress


Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia directed by Lars Von Trier


'Wow, what a week it's been'. Kirsten Dunst's first reaction on receiving the prize for her role of a deeply depressed woman in the end-of-the-world tale "Melancholia” shows how she has experienced emotional up-and-downs during this year's festival. Indeed, the director of Melancholia, Denmark's Lars von Trier, was banned from the festival after sympathetic remarks for Adolf Hitler at a movie press conference.


But it did not prevent Dunst from offering warm words for her director, who was not allowed to attend Sunday's ceremony. She declared : "I want to thank Lars for giving me the opportunity to be so brave”.



Best Actor

Jean Dujardin in The Artist directed by Michel Hazanavicius


Jean Dujardin won the best-actor prize for his role in the silent film "The Artist" (trailer to be seen just below) in which he plays a 1920s Hollywood star whose career crumbles as talking pictures become the norm.

The actor who played crazy a teenager in Brice de Nice said he wanted to share his prize with co-star Berenice Bejo. The film was directed by Bejo's husband, French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, who also directed Dujardin in the hilarious "OSS 117" spy spoofs.



Best Screenplay


Footnote directed by Joseph Cedar


Joseph Cedar's drama tells the story of an ethical dilemma between a father and son, in this black comedy about middle age and disappointed ambition.


Joseph Cedar
Joseph Cedar


Golden camera


Las Acacias directed by Pablo Giorgelli


This road movie, which takes place somewhere in provincial Paraguay, is the debut feature for editor and documaker Pablo Giorgelli. Needless to say it is a brilliant first try. Have a look at the trailer below.



Lifetime achievement award for his work and his exceptional contribution to the history of cinema

Jean-Paul Belmondo


This unbelievably popular French actor, a figurehead of the Nouvelle Vague after his iconic performance in "Breathless", was honoured on 17th May, as a documentary about his life, “Belmondo, itinéraire d’un acteur gâté”, was broadcast on La Croisette.


Bebel and his wife

Bebel and his wife

If you remember only one thing from this year's festival, it should be this declaration from the jury, proving that it has been a high caliber competition : 'We wish we could have awarded all of the short-listed films, as we found them really exciting'.

Au revoir Cannes !


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