'Elephant' trumpets Palme d'Or surprise

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The Independent Culture

The 56th Cannes film festival ended last night with a surprise winner of the top prize. The Palme d'Or went not to Lars von Trier's hotly-tipped Dogville but to Elephant, Gus Van Sant's Columbine massacre-inspired drama acted by non-professionals. Van Sant, who also won the best director prize, thanked the jury and reflected that he had failed many times to get his films into competition in Cannes.

The Grand Prix de Jury, effectively the festival's second prize, went to the widely admired Turkish film, Uzak, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The award for best actor, presented by Elizabeth Hurley (speaking French atrociously), went to Uzak's two leading men, Mehmet Emin Toprak and Muzaffer Ozdemir, and the best actress prize to Marie-Josée Croze for the Canadian film about a man dying of cancer, Les Invasions Barbares, which also won best screenplay.

The Special Jury Prize went to Samira Makhmalbaf for At Five in the Afternoon, her film about an Afghan girl who wants to be president of her country. Makhmalbaf dedicated her win to "all the women of the world".