(CANNES, France) — A pony-tailed Antonio Banderas and his wife, Melanie Griffith, presented the Palme D'Or (the Cannes Film Festival's top prize) Sunday to Italy's Nanni Moretti for The Son's Room, a wrenching study of a family devastated by a son's death. Moretti wrote, directed, and starred in the film.
The awards also proved to be a welcome triumph for two Americans: David Lynch and Joel Coen, who tied for the best director prize. Coen's The Man Who Wasn't There opens this fall, while Lynch's Mulholland Drive (which was originally an ABC pilot) has yet to finalize an American distribution deal.
The most honored film at Cannes, The Piano Teacher, is a tale of a woman's descent into madness that earned Isabelle Huppert her third best actress prize at Cannes. Benoit Magimel (Juliette Binoche's companion) garnered his first best actor award for the film, while the movie's Austrian writer-director, Michael Haneke, took home the Grand Prix (the runner-up prize) — which Life Is Beautiful also won at Cannes before going on to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
Critics had complained that this year's slate of 22 competition films was unimpressive, despite entries from around the globe and the festival's glitzy opening with Moulin Rouge and its high-profile star, Nicole Kidman. For some, Cannes was distinctly lacking in star power, a situation many attributed to the possibility of an actors' strike come July 1.
Stars did, however, turn out for the closing ceremonies. A six-months-pregnant Jodie Foster, who looked sensational in an Armani jacket and slacks, presented the best director prize in flawless French. Model-actress Milla Jovovich presented the best actor award, while Nick Nolte, who is filming Neil Jordan's Double Down in nearby Nice, dropped in to catch the festivities.