France’s The Class wins Cannes’ Palme d’Or

CANNES: French director Sunday Laurent Cantet won the Palme d’Or for best film of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for his movie The Class (Entre Les Murs) about teacher-pupil

relationships in a multicultural school classroom in France.

A total of 22 films vied for the Palme d’Or, which is one of the most prestigious awards in cinema, with the win ending France’s long-running losing streak at the world’s leading film festival. The last time France emerged from the festival with top honours was more than a decade ago.

The Class is a riveting docu-drama with Cantet using real teachers and students to play out roles in a tough Parisian school.

Based on an autobiographical novel by Francois Begaudeau, a young French teacher, Genet turns the classroom portrayed in his movie into a microcosm of contemporary France. Begaudeau also plays the role of a dedicated but sometimes flawed teacher in the film with the young cast of the movie joining Cantet on stage to accept the Palme d’Or, a moment the director described as deeply moving.

Italian directors also scored top awards at the film fest with two films entered in the fest main competition winning key prizes. While Paolo Sorrentino was awarded the jury prize for his political satire about Italy’s seven-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti, Matteo Garrone’s powerful Mafia expose, Gomorrah, emerged with the Grand Prix, which is the third prize after Palme d’Or.

Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the festival’s best director award for his brooding family drama Three Monkeys (Uc Maymum).

The nine-head festival headed by US actor-turned-director-screenwriter Sean Penn also acknowledged the strong presence of Latin American themed films at this year’s festival.

Sandra Corveloni was awarded the best actress prize for her role in Linha de Passe from Brazilian directors Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas which tells the story of four brothers trying to follow their dreams in the Sao Paulo slums.

The best actor award went to Benicio Del Toro who played Che Guevara in Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh’s more-than four hour two-part epic about the Latin American revolutionary leader.

The Cannes festival award for best screenplay went to Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc

Dardenne for Lorna’s Silence which looks at immigration in modern Europe as told by a young Albanian woman who is caught up in the murky business of arranged marriages.

The festival’s Camera d’Or for best first feature film went to London-born Steve McQueen’s Hunger about the so-called troubles in Northern Ireland.

Once again Romania also demonstrated that it has emerged as a key filmmaking nation with Marian Crisan winning the festival’s award for best short film for his movie, Megatron.