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CANNES 2011 winners: The Tree of Life wins Palme d'Or

Ceylan and Dardennes share Grand Prix; Winding Refn takes director award; acting prizes go to Dujardin and Dunst; jury prize goes to Poliss; Camera d’Or to Las Acacias.

The Robert De Niro-led Cannes 2011 jury gave the Palme d’Or to Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. Bill Pohlad, one of the producers, noted that Malick remained “infamously and notoriously shy and quite humble,” which is why he didn’t take the stage himself. “But I know he’d be thrilled with this award.”

The Grand Prix was shared by Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon A Time In Anatolia and The Dardenne Brothers’ The Kid With A Bike. The Dardennes praised Cecile de France and her young co-star Thomas Doret. Ceylan noted that his film was “a long and difficult movie” and told the jury he “really didn’t expect this. I thought it would be too tiring for you” at the end of the festival.

Best Director was Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive. He brought out a list of people to thank on his iPhone, including Gaspar Noe for “headsmashing” inspiration and his lead actor Ryan Gosling, who actually “gave me the opportunity to make this film.” He called the actor “my favourite alter-ego.”

Best Actor went to France’s Jean Dujardin for The Artist, which was directed by Michel Hazanavicius. The local hero bowed to jury president Robert De Niro and danced on stage.

Best Actress went to Kirsten Dunst for Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. “What a week it’s been,” she said with a laugh, about the controversy over von Trier’s Nazi statements at the press conference. She called the award “a great honour and a once in a lifetime thing.” She also thanked the festival for “still allowing the film to be in Competition” and “Lars for the opportuntity to be so brave in this film.”

Best Screenplay went to Israel’s Joseph Cedar (who also directed) for Footnote. He asked that his award be dedicated to Donald Krim, the Kino International veteran who passed away in New York earlier this week.

The jury prize went to Maiwenn’s Poliss, a French ensemble police drama.

The Camera d’Or for best debut feature across all sections went to Las Acacias by Pablo Giogelli (Argentina) from Critics Week.

The Short Film Palme d’Or went to Cross (Cross Country) by Maryna Vroda. The film is French-Ukraine.

The jury was comprised of Robert De Niro (president), Uma Thurman, Jude Law, Johnnie To, Nansun Shi, Martina Gusman, Linn Ullmann, Mahamat Saleh Haroun and Olivier Assayas.

In very halting French, De Niro called called it a “tres belle experience” and said it was “très intéressant.”

Melanie Laurent hosted the closing ceremony and Jane Fonda was on hand to present the Palme d’Or.

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