CANNES, France – The Cannes Film Festival rewarded one of its favorite directors Sunday, as Michael Haneke won the top prize for a second time with his stark film about love and death, “Amour.”
The Austrian director’s powerful and understated film stars two French acting icons – 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva and 81-year-old Jean-Louis Trintignant – as an elderly couple coping with the wife’s worsening health.
Cannes jury member Jean Paul Gaultier praised the performances of the two actors and the “incredible connection” they established in the movie.
Haneke said he made the film because “I experienced something in my family that touched me.” He thanked his wife and – in a rare personal comment – said he had promised her “we would never leave each other, like in the film.”
Some viewers were surprised by the movie’s frank humanity, coming from a master of tightly controlled cinema whose movies often contain sudden bursts of violence.
Haneke has brought 10 films to Cannes over the years, including “Funny Games” and “Hidden.” He previously won the Palme d’Or in 2009 for “The White Ribbon,” and is only the seventh director to take the top prize twice.
The festival jury awarded the second-place Grand Prize to Matteo Garrone’s Italian satire “Reality,” while Ken Loach’s whiskey-tasting comedy “The Angels’ Share” won the third-place Jury Prize.
Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas was named best director for his surrealism-tinged family story “Post Tenebras Lux.”
The best actor prize went to Mads Mikkelsen as a man ostracized by his small-town community when he is accused of child abuse in “The Hunt.”
Best actress was won jointly by Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan, as friends separated by faith in Romanian movie “Beyond the Hills.” Cristian Mungiu’s drama of love and faith in a remote Romanian monastery also won the award for best screenplay.
Despite a strong American flavor to the festival, U.S. films were shut out, apart from Benh Zeitli’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which won the Camera d’Or for best first film.