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Thai upstart 'Uncle Boonmee' takes the Palme d'Or at Cannes

May 23, 2010 | 11:36 am


The Cannes Film Festival jury defied the oddsmakers on Sunday night, voting to give Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" its top prize of the Palme d'Or.

A supernatural-laden drama about a dying man who takes a mystical journey, the film had won the hearts of many critics and festival-goers when it screened last week, but most experts believed the prize would go to one of a group of Cannes veterans, including Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Abbas Kiarostami and Mike Leigh, all of whom had well-received films. Weerasethakul, known colloquially as "Joe," becomes a Palme d'Or winner at the relatively young age of 39, with "Boonmee," his sixth film. The movie does not yet have U.S. distribution.

The Cannes competition jury, headed by Tim Burton, gave its runner-up Gran Prix prize to Xavier Beauvois' monastery-set drama "Of God and Men," which Sony Pictures Classics picked up late last week.

Acting prizes went to Javier Bardem ("Biutiful") and Elio Germano ("La Nostra Vita") on the men's side and Juilette Binoche ("Certified Copy") on the women's. Mathieu Amalric ("Tournee") took home the directing prize.

 -- Steven Zeitchik, reporting from Cannes, France

Photo: Actress Charlotte Gainsbourg stands next to director Apichatpong Weerasethakul after he won the Palme d'Or award for the film "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" at the Cannes Film Festival. Credit: Eric Gaillard / Reuters