Danish director Lars von Trier, always prepared to experiment with genre, technology and his own reputation, took the Palme d'Or with Dancer In The Dark at Cannes.
While the critics have argued that this may not have been the best film von Trier's ever made, none were left unmoved by his musical tale of a friendship between a blind mother and a workmate. Many were infuriated, others swept along by the director's ability to consistently push all the buttons on the emotional scale or by the technical prowess of the picture. Many were simply left in tears.
This ability to move an audience may have been the deciding factor for a jury that was said to have had difficulty deciding among a close field of high quality pictures. Luc Besson's actor-heavy jury also rewarded Dancer's star, the Icelandic singer Bjork in what was her debut big screen appearance.
Second prize, the grand prix, was awarded to one of the early favourites, Devils At The Doorstep (Guizi Lai Le), a black and white epic about the Japanese occupation of China directed by Jiang Wen. Third prize was awarded jointly to Cannes' youngest ever director Samira Makhmalbaf for Blackboard and Roy Andersson's Songs From The Second Floor, the barely finished picture that von Trier tipped as his biggest rival prior to the festival.
Despite being shown without a finished sound track, another film that screened late in the festival Wong Kar-Wai's stunningly beautiful In The Mood For Love won both the CST technical prize and the acting prize for Tony Leung. Neil Labute's Nurse Betty, rumoured to have been the jury's early favourite, eventually took the script prize.
The biggest surprise was the lack of recompense for Liv Ullman's Faithless, which had been a winner with many critics for both film and actress.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS:
Golden Palm Award:
Dancer In The Dark - Lars von Trier
Guizi Lai Le - Jiang Wen
Jury's Award: (joint winners)
Blackboard (Takhte Siah) - Samira Makhmalbaf
Songs From The Second Floor - Roy Andersson
Best Female Performance:
Bjork - Dancer In The Dark
Best Male Performance:
Tony Leung Chiu-Wai - In The Mood For Love
Jury special mention:
The male cast of La Noce by Pavel Lounguine
Edward Yang - A One And A Two (Yi Yi)
Nurse Betty - Neil Labute
The Golden Camera Award: (joint-winners)
Djomeh - Hassan Yektapanah
Zamani Baraye Masti Asbah - Bahman Ghobadi.
Technical Grand Prize:
In The Mood For Love - Wong Kar-Wai
Short Films Palme d'Or:
Anino - Raymond Red
Five Feet High And Rising - Peter Sollett
Second Prize: (joint-winners)
Kiss It Up To God - Caran Hartsfield
Kinu'ach - Amit Sakomski
Third Prize: (joint-winners)
India - Pernille Fischer Christensen
Cuoc Xe Dem - Bui Thac Chuyen
International FIPRESCI Critics Prizes:
For films in competition:
Eureka - "for its penetrating insights into the lives or survivors of a tragedy, for the formal beaty of the photography and for the moving performances."
For films in Critics Week and Quinzaine:
Zamani Baraye Masti Asbha - "for its compassionate but rigorous depiction of a harsh reality where horses and humans share the same predicament."
The Prix Un Certain Regard:
(Fondation Gan Pour Le Cinema which gives FFr200,000 for help with the film's distribution in France)
Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her
Me You Them