Religion-themed films take top prizes at Cannes Film Festival

May 24, 2010
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Apichatpong Weerasethakul (in white) and cast member Wallapa Mongkolprasert at the screening of ''Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat'' (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives) in Cannes on May 21, 2010/Yves Herman

A Buddhist-inspired Thai film has won the coveted Palme d’Or for best picture at the Cannes film festival. “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” a mystical exploration of reincarnation as a well-to-do farmer confronts his imminent death, was directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Xavier Beauvois’ “Of Gods and Men,” based on the real-life story of seven Catholic monks murdered during unrest in Algeria in the 1990s, took the runner-up Grand Prix award at the closing session on Sunday.

“I would like to thank all the spirits and all the ghosts in Thailand who made it possible for me to be here,” Apichatpong, who has won other prizes in Cannes before, said after receiving the award.  He said during the festival that his thoughts were mainly on violence back home between government forces and protesters in the “red shirt” movement.

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Director Xavier Beauvois (2nd L) and cast members arrive for the screening of the film "Of Gods and Men" in Cannes on May 18, 2010/Christian Hartmann

Here’s our full story Thai film surprise winner in Cannes by Mike Collett-White and James Mackenzie and Cannes: le festival honore des filmographies oubliées by our French service film buff Wilfrid Exbrayat. The Thai film divided the critics. The  French daily Le Figaro slammed it as “Uncle Boonmee, Palm of Boredom” (hmmm, was this sour grapes because the “miraculous film” by Frenchman Beauvois only came in second?), but Britain’s Guardian praised it as “lyrically beautiful.”

We also ran a profile of Apichatpong, Thai Cannes winner steeped in spiritualism, and Factbox: Winners at the Cannes film festival 2010. FaithWorld highlighted “Of Gods and Men” last week when it was screened in our post Cannes film follows French monks killed in Algeria.

Apichatpong’s triumph was a change in front-page news for Bangkok newspapers after weeks of unrest and violence there. Here are the reports from the Bangkok Post and The Nation.

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