Film Scouts Diaries

1998 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Cannes Diary #5: Award Night

by Cari Beauchamp

With Theo Angelopoulous winning the Palm d'Or for his Eternity and a Day and other prizes divided amongst a half dozen other films, there were no huge surprises as the jury of the 51st festival announced the winners tonight.

The Grand Prix (or 2nd prize although the French hate calling it that) went to Roberto Benigni for his Life is Beautiful and the Prize du Jury (or 3rd place) was shared by La Classes de Neige by Frenchman Claude Miller and Festen by Denmark's Thomas Vinterberg.

Best Director Award went to John Boorman for The General and Hal Hartley won best script for his Henry Fool.

The Best Actress Award was shared by Elodie Bouchez and Natacha Regnier - co-stars of Erick Zonca's La Vie Revee des Anges. Best Actor went to Peter Mullan, the star of Ken Loach's My Name is Joe.

The jury, headed by Martin Scorsese and including Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder, created a special prize as juries here often do, for "Best Artistic Contribution" for Todd Haynes, director of Velvet Goldmine.

The highlight of the ceremony in terms of entertainment came from Roberto Benigni, who greeted mistress of ceremonies Isabelle Huppert with a huge hug and a kiss and then fell at the feet of Martin Scorsese -- after kissing the rest of the jury he lifted Scorsese in the air for a final hug.

Angelopoulos's speech was calm in comparision and he did not refer to his behavior several years ago when he won a lesser prize and said in acceptance that he didnt know what to say because he had come prepared only to accept the Palm d'Or.

The prizes were greeted with little response, the general opinion being in general agreement that these were the best films in a generally dismal year of choices. The only controversy to come out of the awards was the selection of Slam's director Marc Levin as the winner of the Camera d'Or - the prize given to the best first time director. Slam won at Sundance as well, but the controversy stemmed from word that the jury -- made up of four French and 3 non-french had been very divided with the four french all refusing to give the award to a French director and insisting it go to Slam instead. The non French members of the jury felt shut out of the discussions - all held in French - and were none to keen on having a Sundance winner take home the Camera d'Or --the idea being that the prize go to someone who has been unrecognized before.

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