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“White Ribbon” wins Cannes Palme d’Or, does Oscar await?

May 24, 2009

cannes16Austrian director Michael Haneke claimed the coveted Palme d’Or, the top prize of the Cannes film festival, for “Das Weisse Band” (The White Ribbon”), instantly catapulting the movie on the top of the list of this year’s must see films around the globe. Cannes, of course, is the world’s top film festival where cinematic art precedes the showbusiness commerce of Hollywood. For the full story, click here.

The win comes as somewhat of a surprise because heading into the final weekend of the festival , Cannes watchers had said French prison drama “Un Prophete” (“A Prophet”) had the upper hand at grasping the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm). But Cannes awards are given by a jury, and jurors can be a fickle bunch.

This year’s group of nine jury members was headed  by French actress Isabelle Huppert and included Italian actress Asia Argento, U.S. director James Gray and U.S. actress Robin Wright Penn, and rumors cannes17had spread that debate among the group had been spirited — or perhaps passionate is a better word here on the French Riviera. For a full list of winners, click here. In any case, Haneke pulled off an upset.

“The White Ribbon” takes place in a small town in northern Germany just ahead of World War I. It tells of a village of families, parents, kids, a pastor, doctor and tenant farmers in which something is amiss. A series of sinister crimes take place for which a group of children – cruelly disciplined by their parents – emerge as the prime suspects. And the eerie, black-and-white film becomes an exploration of the roots of Nazi terror.

There is little doubt that, with the Golden Palm tucked under it’s arm, Haneke and “White Ribbon” will cannes18become a must-see movie on this year’s list of top films. It will likely head toward this coming year’s Oscar race as a favorite. But to win that honor — the world’s top film award — it has a long way to go. Lest one forget, last year’s Palme d’Or winner, French film “The Class,” appeared to be a shoo-in for the Academy Award for best foreign language film, only to be surprised by Japanese movie “Departures.” Yes, the Cannes jurors can be a fickle bunch, but so can Oscar voter. We’ll see what happens, come next February.

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