Love scoops top prize at Cannes Film Festival 2012

In a year that has seen old-age no longer playing a supporting role in cinema, Cannes has bestowed its top award, le Palme d’Or, on the 70-year old Austrian director Michael Haneke. Winning the prestigious award for a 2nd time with his latest film Love (Amour), Haneke joins a select club of double Palme d’Or winners – Francis Ford Coppola, Bille August, the Dardennes Brothers, Shohei Imamura and Emir Kusturica.

Focusing on an octogenarian couple, Georges and Anne (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) whose relationship is tested after Anne suffers a series of strokes, the film’s leads accompanied Haneke on stage to receive the award to a standing ovation. Indeed, the jury’s president Nanni Moretti stressed the recognition of the actors’ contribution in a film that received praise from film critics and film makers alike.

The Grand Prize, considered the competition’s second place, was won by Matteo Garrone’s Italian satire Reality.

With Ken Loach collecting the Jury Prize for The Angels’ Share, Cannes 2012 marked the 11th time that one of his films has been in-competition. A touching, comedy-drama, the film follows Robbie, a young man on community service who is inspired to change the course of his life after a visit to a whisky distillery.

Mexican director Carlos Reygadas was named best director for the surrealist tale Tenebras Lux – a film that divided both the jury and audiences after it received jeers and applause in equal measure.

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen won the best actor prize for The Hunt, while the actress prize was shared between Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan for Romanian movie Beyond the Hills. It also received the best screenplay award. Based on a true story, the film charts the death of a young woman, during an exorcism in a remote Romanian monastery in 2005.

Featuring a shortlist of films competing for the top prize this year that did not include an entry from a woman director and greater prominence of films from America, the festival’s programmer Thierry Frémaux has had a tough week fending off criticism. With all the major film making awards going to directors who have previously won something at Cannes, some critics may feel that the jury played ‘safe’ in their choice, something that cannot be levelled at actors Nicole Kidman or Robert Pattinson for their risqué roles in Lee Daniels The Paperboy and David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis respectively.

Rod Rhule.

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