Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon won the Palme d’Or on Sunday night (May 24) in Cannes.

The director accepted the award – his third major prize at the festival – from jury president Isabelle Huppert who starred in his 2001 prize winner La Pianiste. The film tells the story of life in a small German town beset by tragedies and strange occurences as the First World War approaches.

Speaking about the win, Haneke said that he could finally tell his wife: “I can say this is a moment where I am truly happy.” The film is handled by France’s Les Films du Losange for international sales; Sony Pictures Classics has US distribution rights.

SPC also has US rights to Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, which won the Grand Jury Prize but failed to score any other awards despite lead actor Tahar Rahim having been heavily favoured. The top actor honour went to Christoph Waltz for his portrayal of Colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. The stunned Waltz thanked his director saying, “You gave me my vocation back.” In keeping with his character’s linguistic prowess, Waltz mixed French, German and English into his speech.

Best actress went to Charlotte Gainsbourg for Lars Von Trier’s controversial Antichrist. The actress, who hails from a creative dynasty in France, gave thanks to her mother Jane Birkin and late father, Serge Gainsbourg.

Best directing honours went to Brillante Mendoza for Kinatay. The Filipino director had been to Cannes last year with Serbis. Match Factory has international sales. The screenplay prize was awarded to Mei Feng for Lou Ye’s Spring Fever. Ye accepted the prize on his writer’s behalf.

The jury prize was shared between two films, Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank and Park Chan Wook’s Thirst. Arnold is now two-for-two having won the jury prize for her first film, Red Road in 2006. Park’s Old Boy took the Grand Prize in 2004.

In honour of a first film, the Camera d’Or was given to Australia’s Warwick Thornton for Samson & Delilah, which ran in Un Certain Regard and is handled by Elle Driver internationally. Special mention for the Camera d’Or went to Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani’s Ajami which had a berth in Directors’ Fortnight.

Wild Grass director Alain Resnais came to the stage to accept the Exceptional Prize of the Cannes Film Festival. The 87-year-old veteran was in competition for the sixth time with WildGrass.

Finally, the award for best short film went to Portugal’s Joao Salaviza for Arena with special mention to The $6.50 Man by Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland.