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The White Ribbon scoops top prize at Cannes

india Updated: May 25, 2009 14:11 IST

Best actress
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Charlotte Gainsbourg won the best actress prize for the film Antichrist.
Austrian director Michael Haneke's somber black-and-white drama The White Ribbon, a chilling account of a German village in the build-up to World War I walked away with the Palme d'Or for the Best Film at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

Haneke beat off competition from French director Jacques Audiard's A Prophet, Jane Campion's period drama Bright Star, Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces and Quentin Tarantino's World War II film Inglorious Basterds to win the top prize last night in a gala award ceremony.

The Austrian helmer, who had won the best director prize at Cannes in 2005 for his French film 'Cache' (Hidden), examines themes of communal guilt, distrust and punishment among residents of a small German village on the eve of First World War through his brilliantly crafted 20th century drama.

His previous credits include 'The Piano Teacher', 'Code Unknown' and 'Hidden'. "Sometimes my wife asks me a very feminine question: 'Are you happy? That is very hard to answer. But today is a moment in my life where I can say I am very happy and I am thinking of you too," Haneke said while accepting the award. 'The White Ribbon' also won France's Education Ministry prize, which means that it would be recommended to teachers across the country as a study material.

French director Jacques Audiard, who was a favourite to win Palme d'Or, mananged to scoop runner-up Grand Prix award for his gripping prison story 'A Prophet.

Palme d'Or award
Palme d'Or (Golden Palm)
Austrian director Michael Haneke, center, poses with the Palme d'Or award for the film White Ribbon, with jury members.

The Jury, led by French actress Isabelle Huppert, including Indian actress Sharmila Tagore, Hollywood's Robin Wright Penn, Italy's Asia Argento and Taiwan's Shu Qi, handed out the Best Director trophy to Brillante Mendoza from the Philippines for 'Kinatay', a story based on kidnap, rape and murder incidents.

The Jury Prize was shared by Andrea Arnold's teen story of 'Fish Tank' from Britain and Park Chan-wook's vampire tale of 'Thirst' from South Korea.

The enfant terrible of Chinese cinema, Lou Ye, won the Best Screenplay Award for his tale of marital discord and homosexual love story 'Spring Fever'.

Banned by Beijing from making movies for six years after his 2006 controversial 'Summer Palace', Lou made 'Spring Fever' secretly in Nanjing and also got it selected for the Festival's top Competition slot.

Austrian TV actor Christoph Waltz won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of the ruthless, sarcastic, comic Nazi colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's World War II saga, 'Inglorious Basterds'. Critics widely agreed that the 52-year-old outshone a star cast that included Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger or rising Irish star Michael Fassbender.

British star Charlotte Gainsbourg won the best actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her role as a grieving mother in Danish film-maker Lars von Trier controversial Gothic drama 'Antichrist'.

Best Director
Brillante Mendoza
Filipino director Brillante Mendoza poses with the Best Director award he received for the film 'Kinatay', at a photo call following the awards ceremony, during the 62nd International film festival in Cannes. (AP)
The 37-year-old actress beat off competition from Penelope Cruz and Abbie Cornish. Gainsbourg received her award at the festival's Palme d'Or ceremony from Willem Dafoe, who plays her husband in 'Antichrist'.

Directed by Danish film-maker Lars von Trier, the film explores a couple's emotional crisis after the death of their only child and how they enter a never-ending spiral of sexual and physical abuse.

The Camera d'Or for the Best Debut Feature went to Samson and Delilah by aboriginal director Warwick Thornton. The film revolves around the love story of a young couple in a troubled indigenous community.

The main list of winners is as follows:

Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) - 'The White Ribbon' by Michael Haneke (Austria)
Grand Prize - 'A Prophet' by Jacques Audiard (France)
Jury Prize - 'Fish Tank' by Andrea Arnold (Britain) and Thirst By Park Chan-wook (South Korea)
Special Prize - Alain Resnais
Best Director - Brillante Mendoza, 'Kinatay' (The Philippines)
Best Actor - Christoph Waltz, 'Inglourious Basterds' (United States)
Best Actress - Charlotte Gainsbourg, 'Antichrist' (Denmark)
Best Screenplay - Feng Mei, 'Spring Fever' (China)
Camera d'Or (first-time director) - 'Samson and Delilah' by Warwick Thornton (Australia)
Best short film - 'Arena' by Joao Salaviza (Portugal).