25 May 2009

Austrian film wins top Cannes award

8:49 am on 25 May 2009

Austrian director Michael Haneke has won the Palme d'Or for best picture at the Cannes film festival for "The White Ribbon", an eerie, black-and-white exploration of the roots of Nazi terror.

The White Ribbon, set in a village in northern Germany, follows a series of sinister crimes for which a group of children, cruelly disciplined by their parents, emerge as the prime suspects.

New Zealand director Jane Campion's Bright Star missed out on the award. The film tells of the love affair between John Keats begins and Fanny Brawne in 19th century London.

France's Charlotte Gainsbourg won the best actress award for her courageous performance in Lars von Trier's Antichrist, while the best actor award went to Austria's Christoph Waltz for his flamboyant performance as an SS officer in Quentin Tarantino's World War Two caper Inglourious Basterds.

Best director award went to Filipino Brillante Mendoza, who presented Kinata in the festival.

Mei Feng, the writer on Chinese director Lou Ye's Spring Fever, picked up the best screenplay award.

The jury prize was awarded jointly to British director Andrea Arnold for her urban drama Fish Tank and South Korean director Park Chan-Wook for his vampire romance Thirst.

The Camera d'Or award for debut film went to Australian director Warwick Thornton for Samson and Delilah.

New Zealand short film The Six Dollar Fifty Man has been singled out for a special distinction.

Directed by Louis Sutherland and Mark Albiston, the film tells the story of a young boy facing up to schoolground bullying.

The Palme D'Or award for top short film went to Portuguese film Arena.