Mon, May 24, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Moore wins top prize at Cannes

EXPOSURE The anti-Bush documentary will almost certainly get a distributor now that it has won the Palme d'Or, after being blocked by Walt Disney Co

REUTERS , CANNES, FRANCE

American film director Michael Moore holds the Palme d'Or trophy he received for his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 during the award ceremony of the 57th International Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

US director Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, a savage indictment of US President George W. Bush's handling of Iraq and the war on terror, won the top award at the Cannes film festival on Saturday.

"I have this great hope that things are going to change," said Moore after tearing into Bush with his emotion-charged documentary in the run-up to November's presidential election.

The Oscar-winning director, overwhelmed by the standing ovation given to his Palme d'Or best film award, said: "I want to make sure if I do nothing else for this year that those who have died in Iraq have not died in vain."

Moore was the big winner on a night otherwise dominated by Asian films, which took three top prizes to show they are now a major force in world cinema.

Moore's diatribe focuses on how the US and the White House reacted to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacking attacks and traces links between the Bush family and prominent Saudis, including the family of Osama bin Laden.

It then switches to the war in Iraq, with graphic footage of Iraqi wounded and prisoners being abused by US troops.

Fahrenheit 9/11 had already whipped up an international media storm after the Walt Disney Co barred its Miramax film unit from releasing such a politically polarizing work in a US election year.

Miramax is negotiating to buy back distribution rights from Disney in the hope of releasing the film in the US in July.

Two years ago, the director's anti-gun lobby documentary Bowling for Columbine won a special prize at Cannes and went on to gross US$120 million worldwide and win him an Oscar.

Thanking the jury headed by cult director Quentin Tarantino, Moore said: "You will ensure that the American people will see this movie."

Moore's win capped a politically charged festival, with documentaries and films reflecting troubled times and French showbusiness workers staging demonstrations and sit-ins to protest against cuts in their welfare benefits.

Tarantino, who screened his Kill Bill revenge saga out of competition, also rewarded Asian films, reflecting his passion for martial arts movies.

However, the best actor award was a surprise, going to 14-year-old Japanese actor Yagura Yuuyi for his captivating performance in Nobody Knows, about four children abandoned by their mother in Tokyo to fend for themselves.

Yagura missed the awards ceremony because he had to return to Japan to sit school exams.

The best actress award went to China's Maggie Cheung for her role as a woman trying to kick a drug habit in Clean, by French director Olivier Assayas.

The Grand Prix went to ultra-violent Korean film Old Boy, the story of a man imprisoned for 15 years who must find out who captured him and why.

France also enjoyed two awards. Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri won the best screenplay award for Jaoui's film Comme une Image, the tale of a 20-year-old desperate for love and attention from her callous father.

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Asia flexes its cinematic muscles at Cannes fest

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