Utpal Borpujari

May 29, 2009

‘Anti-prize’ to Antichrist denounced by Cannes director

By Utpal Borpujari in Cannes

Danish provocateur Lars von Trier’s festival shocker “Antichrist” continued making news hours before the Palme d’Or was to be announced late Sunday with Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux denouncing an awards jury for giving an “anti-prize” to the film.

The Ecumenical jury, which comprises Christian film makers, film critics and other film professionals and honours “works of artistic quality which witnesses to the power of film to reveal the mysterious depths of human beings through what concerns them, their hurts and failings as well as their hopes”, chose “Antichrist” for the first-ever dubious ‘honour’.

While the Ecumenical award, which this year went to British director Ken Loach’s feel-good “Looking for Eric”, is one of the sidebar awards at the festival, it is considered a prestigious honour, and in the past has gone to films like “Babel” by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, “Motorcycle Diaries” by Walter Salles, “At Five In the Afternoon” in Samira Makhmalbaf and “Kandahar” by Mohsen Makhmalbaf”.

The jury headed by Romanian director Radu Mihaileanu, which gave a special mention to Austrian director Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon”, said that von Trier’s film was “the most misogynist movie from the self-proclaimed biggest director in the world” and thus qualified for a special “anti-prize”.

Mihaileanu said in a statement that von Trier was suggesting in the film that “woman should be burnt at the stake so that man can finally stand up”.

Fremaux decried the decision as “ridiculous” and said it “borders on a call for censorship, (and is) scandalous coming from an ‘ecumenical’ jury which is headed by a filmmaker”.

“Antichrist” has fiercely divided viewers, with most of them finding it shocking, provocative and beyond all limits of visual violence through portrayal of extreme sexual violence.

Meanwhile, the top honour in the official Un Certain Regard (A Certain Regard) section went to dark family drama “Kynodontas (Dogtooth)” by Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, that deals with a couple that isolates their three children from the world behind the high walls of their suburban villa.

The Jury Prize in the section went to Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu’s “Politist, Adjectiv (Police, Adjective)”, the story of a policeman who wants to change the laws, while a special jury prize was given jointly to Iranian Bahman Ghobadi’s wonderful study of Iran’s underground music scene, “Nobody Knows About The Persian Cats”, and French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Love’s “Father of My Children”.

Haneke’s “The White Ribbon” also won the FIPRESCI International Critics’ Prize while “Farewell Gary” by debut French director Nassim Amaouche won the Grand Prix at the prestigious International Critics’ Week held on the sidelines of the main festival. The SACD Prize in the Critics Week section went to “Lost Persons Area” by Caroline Strubbe of Belgium, and the AACID/CCAS Support Award went to “Whisper With The Wind” by Iraq’s Shahram Alidi, who also won the Young Critic Award and the “Prize Regard Jeune” decided by seven young Europeans invited to the festival.

In the highly-prestigious unofficial section Director’s Fortnight, 20-year-old Xavier Dolan from Canada created a sensation by winning three of the four prizes for his film “I Killed My Mother”. The film took the Art Cinema Award, Prix Regard Jeunes and SACD prizes. The Special Mention went to “La Merditude des choses” by Felix van Groeningen of Belgium.

In the official student film competition Cinefondation, the 15,000-euro top prize went to “Baba” by Zuzana Kirchnervova-Spidlova of the Czech Republic. The second and third prizes went to “Goodbye” by Song Fang of Beijing Film Academy, and “Don’t Step Out of the House” by Korean Academy of Film Arts student Jo Sung-hee and “Diploma” by Yaelle Kayam of The Sam Spiegel Film and TV School of Israel.    

Sweden’s “Seeds of the Fall” by Patrik Eklund won the Canal Plus award for the Best Short Film while the Kodak Discovery Award for Best Short Film went to “Logorama” by François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain in the Short Film competition.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 25-05-2009)

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