French Schoolteacher Film Wins a Top Prize at Cannes

French film Entre les Murs (The Class) won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, according to The New York Times. Directed by Laurent Cantet, this documentary-like drama follows a year in the life of a French schoolteacher working in a tough multicultural section of Paris. (Cue “Gangsta’s Paradise“?) Benicio Del Toro also won the top prize for acting in Steven Soderbergh’s Che. Viva la Benicio! More from The Times after the jump.

The president of the jury, Sean Penn, said the award for “The Class” was one of two unanimous verdicts. The other was the prize for best actor, given to Benicio Del Toro, who played the title role in Steven Soderbergh’s “Che.” Other winners included Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, two-time Palme d’Or recipients, who took the screenplay award for “Le Silence de Lorna,” about the struggles of a young Albanian immigrant in Belgium. Sandra Corveloni, who played a working-class mother in São Paulo in Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas’s “Linha de Passe,” won the best-actress award, which the directors accepted on her behalf. The directing award went to Nuri Bilge Ceylan for “Three Monkeys,” about a disintegrating Turkish family.

Both the grand prix and the jury prize — first and second runner-up, as it were — went to Italian films: the grand prix to Matteo Garrone’s “Gomorrah,” a brutally realistic examination of organized crime in Naples; and the jury prize to “Il Divo,” Paolo Sorrentino’s highly stylized portrait of the former Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti. The Caméra d’Or for best first feature, awarded by a separate jury (led by the French director Bruno Dumont), went to Steve McQueen’s “Hunger,” which unsparingly depicts the protests of imprisoned I.R.A. militants in the 1980s.

Continuing a Cannes tradition of improvisation, the jury conferred two special prizes, which Mr. Penn described as a combination of a lifetime achievement award and an acknowledgment of bold new work. The winners were Catherine Deneuve (born in 1943) and Clint Eastwood (born in 1930). Ms. Deneuve, who appears in “A Christmas Tale,” a family drama directed by Arnaud Desplechin, accepted her award. Mr. Eastwood, whose competition entry, “Changeling,” was expected by many to win a top prize, was absent.

 

French Schoolteacher Film Wins a Top Prize at Cannes