Cannes Film Festival had something for all tastes |

Cannes Film Festival had something for all tastes

AP Photo

CANNES, France ” There was Darth Vader, breathing heavily as he marched down the red carpet. Then came Sharon Stone, posing for the paparazzi again and again in a golden gown or feather boa.

This year’s Cannes Film Festival, which ended Sunday, brought plenty of glitz, glamor and Hollywood moments. But the stars of the final soiree were two Belgian brothers who make small, socially conscious films about people struggling just to get by.

The Dardenne brothers’ “The Child” won the top award Saturday at the festival, which celebrates stars and small art house filmmakers with equal gusto. Every year, Cannes carefully mixes glitz and grit, critic-pleasers and crowd-teasers, to come up with something for everyone.

For sheer fan hysteria, nothing this year topped the Cannes showing of “Star Wars: Episode III ” Revenge of the Sith.”

Outside the festival palace May 15, Darth Vader’s breathing blasted from giant speakers. Stone cozied up to storm troopers lining the carpet as paparazzi in tuxedos snapped photos.

“Star Wars” didn’t compete at Cannes. But it broke box office history by selling more than $50 million in tickets in a single day in the United States alone. Most moviemakers at Cannes would be delighted to make that sum worldwide in their entire theatrical run.

“The Child,” the realistic, wrenching story of a petty crook suddenly faced with fatherhood, isn’t one for the multiplex. Even in Europe, it’s not likely to draw huge crowds. Some 70 percent of ticket sales here are for American movies.

But a win at Cannes can nonetheless bring bigger audiences and help independent filmmakers maintain their artistic freedom.

“We haven’t come back down to earth yet,” a beaming Jean-Pierre Dardenne said after winning the award with his brother, Luc.

The Dardennes already took Cannes’ top award six years ago, with “Rosetta.” Their new Palme d’Or catapulted them into elite company.

The only other two-time winners are Shohei Imamura of Japan, Bille August of Denmark, Francis Ford Coppola of the United States and Sarajevo-born Emir Kusturica.

As jury president this year, Kusturica had the tough task of getting nine people ” including U.S. author Toni Morrison, Mexican actress Salma Hayek, French filmmaker Agnes Varda and Spanish actor Javier Bardem ” to reach agreement.

“I see now how hard it is to be president of a country,” Kusturica quipped.

As usual, the ceremony brought surprises ” although nothing as dramatic as Michael Moore’s win last year with “Fahrenheit 9/11,” his assault on the White House.

Critics appreciated “The Child,” but it didn’t look like a front-runner going into the awards. It beat out a few North American movies with stronger commercial prospects.

Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers,” starring Bill Murray as a middle-aged Lothario, took second place. Another critical favorite, David Cronenberg’s “A History of Violence,” with Viggo Mortensen as a small-town dad protecting his family from mobsters, was overlooked.

Tommy Lee Jones’ feature film debut, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” played at the end of the festival and surprised critics for its power. Jones won best actor, and Mexican writer Guillermo Arriaga took the screenwriting prize.

On Sunday as the festival wrapped up, the jury explained its choices. Varda said members had enjoyed “Broken Flowers,” but not as much as the jury president.

Kusturica admitted that most of the movies in competition were “a little less good” than he had expected, though he said there were four or five standouts. There wasn’t a consensus on the best film, and compromises were reached, he said.

Morrison spoke of strong views and spirited debates.

Would she be ready to come back and do it again? The Nobel Prize winner paused, smiled graciously, then admitted, “Not right away.”

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