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Michael Haneke's Amour takes Palme d'Or at Cannes

Amour, Love, Michael Haneke

Story by Jack Foley

MICHAEL Haneke’s new film Amour has taken the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival.

The critically-acclaimed drama stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as an elderly couple whose relationship undergoes the ultimate test of love when confronted with the imminent death of one of them.

Haneke dedicated the prize to his wife in what has been described as one of the ceremony’s most emotional acceptance speeches ever.

The award caps another memorable Cannes for the Austrian director, who also won the Palme d’Or three years ago for The White Ribbon.

It means that he joins a short list of filmmakers who have twice taken the top prize (alongside Alf Sjoberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Bille August, Emir Kusturica, Shohei Imamura, and Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne) and makes history by becoming the first director to win a pair of Palmes just three years apart.

In a ceremony that contained at least one upset – best director went to Carlos Reygadas for Post Tenebras Lux – there was also another Cannes prize for British director Ken Loach, whose latest film, The Angels’ Share, received the jury prize.

The award marked the filmmaker’s first Cannes honour since the 2006 Palme d’Or for The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur shared the award for best actress for their performances in Beyond The Hills, a psychological drama about nuns from Romanian director Cristian Mungiu (of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days fame).

And Mad Mikkelsen received a standing ovation after being named best actor for his performance as a man falsely accused of pedophilia in Thomas Vinterberg’s Danish film, The Hunt, which was also a critical favourite.

By contrast, Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas turned many heads after taking the best director prize for his experimental feature Post Tenebras Lux, a polarising film that hadn’t been foreseen as a potential awards winner.

Reygadas has, however, previously won a jury prize for 2007’s Silent Light.

The Camera d’Or for first film went to Benh Zeitlin’s Un Certain Regard entry Beasts of the Southern Wild, a Sundance Film Festival award winner (grand jury prize) that also took the Fipresci international critics’ prize the night before.

This year’s jury was led by Italian director Nanni Moretti and included actors Ewan McGregor and Diane Kruger, director Alexander Payne and fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Intriguingly, there wasn’t a single prize for any American films, despite general agreement among critics that 2012 had marked one of the strongest years in recent memory for films from that country.

Cannes main prizes at a glance:

Palme d’Or:
Amour (Michael Haneke)

Grand Prix:
Reality (Matteo Garrone)

Carlos Reygadas (Post Tenebras Lux)

Jury prize:
The Angels’ Share” (Ken Loach)

Mad Mikkelsen, The Hunt

Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur (Beyond The Hills)

Cristian Mungiu (Beyond the Hills)

Un Certain Regards Jury Prizes

Main prize:
After Lucia (Michel Franco, Mexico)

Jury prize:
Le Grand Soir (Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern, France)

Actress (tie):
Emilie Dequenne (Our Children) and Suzanne Clement (Laurence Anyways)

Special distinction of the jury:
Children of Sarajevo (Aida Begic)

Other Jury Prizes:

Camera d’Or:
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Critics’ Week Grand Prix:
Here and There (Antonio Mendez Esparza)