Belgians score a Palme d'Or coup as Cannes festival closes

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The Independent Culture

Belgian film-making brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne scored an unexpected coup at the Cannes Film Festival last night, winning their second Palme d'Or award with their film The Child.

Belgian film-making brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne scored an unexpected coup at the Cannes Film Festival last night, winning their second Palme d'Or award with their film The Child.

The brothers - who won the Palme in 1999 for their film Rosetta - are among a select handful of film-makers to win the award twice. Another is Bosnian director Emir Kusturica, who was the head of this year's jury.

The Child is a powerful realist drama about a young man at the bottom of the social ladder who sells his baby and then tries desperate measures to get it back.

The setting is the run-down industrial town of Seraing, near Liège in Belgium, where the Dardennes shoot all their gritty, socially committed dramas, which have been compared to the films of Ken Loach.

The runner-up, winning the Grand Prize, was American independent director Jim Jarmusch, for Broken Flowers, widely tipped here to be Jarmusch's biggest commercial success for some time.

The film stars Bill Murray, in typically deadpan mode, as an aging Don Juan who decides to visit some of his former lovers, played by Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton. White-haired hipster Jarmusch thanked "this very strange jury we have" - other members included actress Salma Hayek, action director John Woo and novelist Toni Morrison - and went on, unusually, to honour the other film-makers in competition, especially Taiwenese director Hou Hsaio-Hsien, "to whom I'd like to say, I am your student".

The Best Actor award went to American star Tommy Lee Jones, of Men in Black fame, for his first feature as director, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. A brutal modern-day western, with patches of black humour, the film features Jones as a grizzled ranchhand who travels across the Texan border to bury his murdered Mexican friend.

The film won another award, for best screenwriting. Its writer is Mexican novelist Guillermo Arriaga - best known for the scripts of Amores Perros and 21 Grams.

The Best Actress went to Hanna Laslo, an Israeli comedy actress playing her first serious role in Amos Gitai's Free Zone, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As the festival closed last night, the film Chromophobia was premiered, starring Spanish actress Penelope Cruz as a prostitute suffering from cancer. It is directed by Martha Fiennes, the sister of actor Ralph who also stars.

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