Cannes Film Festival ends with gala ceremony for top awards

The Cannes Film Festival ends Sunday when the world's leading movie showcase rolls out its prestigious prizes, including the Palme d'Or for best picture.

A nine-member jury headed by Mad Max director George Miller is due to select the winners from the 21 films comprising this year's main competition.

German director Maren Ade's comedy Toni Erdmann about a high-flying corporate adviser and her prankster father has emerged as the favourite for the festival's top prizes.

The last woman to win the Palme d'Or was New Zealand-born Jane Campion who was awarded prize in 1993 for The Piano.

Cannes also strayed this year into several controversial areas with films touching on cannibalism, necrophilia, rape and a young man having sex with a much older man.

The normally lofty world of Cannes' annual film festival was also one of the most political in recent years.

Over the course of the 11-day festival, several US actors have lashed out at the Republican Party's presumptive candidate for president, Donald Trump, and Brazilian filmmakers have protested about their national president's removal from office while there were attacks on European fiscal austerity.

The festival was also notable for its unprecedented security following the deadly attacks on Paris and Brussels.

Among the contenders for awards this year is also Brazilian director Kleber Mendonca Filho's Aquarius, which tells the story of a 65-year-old woman facing eviction from her apartment.

Other candidates for top prize this year are the two Romanian entries in the main competition: Sieranevada from Cristi Puiu and Cristian Mungiu's Bacalaureat (Graduation).

Mungiu is making his bid for a second Palme d'Or after in 2007 becoming the first Romanian to win the top prize for his movie about a woman attempting to have an abortion during communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's reign.

A late contender for the top prize was Dutch-born Paul Verhoeven's Elle, which screened on the last day of the festival and is a dark comedy portraying a successful businesswoman's search for revenge after she is raped.

Cannes' perennials such as Britain's Ken Loach and leading US independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch have also won critical acclaim in Cannes for their new films.

Arkansas-born Jeff Nichols' conventional but hard-hitting drama about intermarriage in the United States of the 1950s has also emerged as a favourite on the Croisette, the palm-lined boulevard that runs through Cannes.

Another popular film at the festival this year was American Honey from British-born director Andrea Arnold, which told the story of a magazine-selling crew on a drug-fuelled road trip through the nation's Midwest.

The festival began unveiling its prizes on Saturday when the jury for the Un Certain Regard section announced that the Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen had won the sidebar's top award for his story about a boxer who falls in love before a championship match.

Kuosmanen's Hymyileva Mies (The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki) was one of 18 films hailing from 20 different countries competing in the Un Certain Regard section, which promotes up-and-coming directors.

Last update: Sun, 22/05/2016 - 12:04

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