Director dedicates Cannes prize to Ulster

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The Independent Online
VETERAN film-maker John Boorman last night dedicated his Cannes Film Festival win to Northern Ireland's "Yes" vote, writes Diana Blamires.

John Boorman won Best Director for his film The General, a black-and- white portrait of Du-blin gang leader Martin Cahill, starring Brendan Gleeson.

Scotsman Peter Mullan won the Best Actor prize at the prestigious Palme d'Or ceremony for his role in Ken Loach's film My Name is Joe. The movie itself won nothing despite being hotly tipped. Other British winners were David Lodge and Lynne Ramsey who shared the jury prize for a short film.

After the ceremony, former BBC film-maker John Boorman said: "During those 28 years there has been conflict of the most awful kind. This week people have voted for peace, both in the north and south, and it is a marvellous beginning."

Boorman criticised Godzilla, the closing movie at Cannes, for "dumbing down". He said: "This is a film that we are happily missing tonight by being here. I think Titanic was merely an extreme example of what's happening. Every week we see these pictures supported by massive advertising campaigns which crush the smaller pictures in their wake ... Cannes is one of the last bastions of good movies that are appreciated and promoted as they should be."

Although he had his own directorial debut in the festival, Peter Mullan said that he had kept his thoughts to himself during filming. "If you are working with Ken Loach, you don't try to tell him how to capture a particular scene if you want to keep your teeth," he said.

The Palme d'Or went to Mia Eoniotita Ke Mia Mera (Eternity And A Day), directed by the Greek Theo Angelopoulos. But the star of the night was Roberto Benigni, whose sheer delight at collecting the Grand Jury Prize brought him a standing ovation and tears as well as laughter from the jury. He kissed jury president Martin Scorsese's feet and gave him a bear hug and kissed each member of the jury in turn.