Cannes' conclusion gives Eastwood a break, American filmmakers accolades


"I've never seen 23 films in one week before," said Cannes jury president Clint Eastwood. "It makes me want to go home and cut at least 20 minutes out of every movie I ever made."

Nevertheless, Mr. Eastwood and his nine colleagues, including jury vice president Catherine Deneuve, survived such endurance contests as a 2-hour, 33-minute Indian film about a roadside coffee shop (highlight: rat drowning in a jar of yogurt) to arrive at a verdict Monday night, bringing to an end the 47th annual Cannes Film Festival in France.

In a ceremony broadcast across Europe from Cannes' cavernous Palais des Festivals, the festival's top honor, the Palme d'Or, went to the American independent film "Pulp Fiction," a funny and graceful crime thriller directed by Quentin Tarantino ("Reservoir Dogs").

Flanked by his stars, Bruce Willis and John Travolta, Mr. Tarantino, 31, offered a single-digit retort to a heckler in the audience. "My films don't usually bring people together," a grinning Mr. Tarantino said, claiming he was astonished to win any award that required consensus. A complexly constructed, three-part narrative that also features Uma Thurman and Samuel Jackson, "Pulp Fiction" is scheduled to be released in the United States at the end of the summer.

Though "Pulp Fiction" was a festival favorite, many critics were astounded by the jury's failure to give any recognition to Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Red," the final and -- by common consent -- the finest installment in the Polish filmmaker's "Three Colors" trilogy.

Instead, the jury divided the second prize, called the Grand Prix du Jury, between "Burnt by the Sun," a sentimental drama by Russian film maker Nikita Mikhalkov, and "To Live," a historical drama by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who was unable to attend the festival for political reasons. Mr. Zhang's frequent star and current companion, Gong Li ("Ju Dou," "Raise the Red Lantern"), stood in his place, accepting the scroll from Mr. Willis.

The male lead of "To Live," popular Chinese comedian Ge You, was given the Best Actor award. Best Actress honors went to veteran Italian performer Virna Lisi for her portrayal of Catherine de Medici in the bloody and turgid French costume film "Queen Margot."

Nanni Moretti, a greatly gifted Italian comic filmmaker, was named Best Director for his droll and touching diary film, "Caro Diario." French comic Michel Blanc won the screenplay award for "Grosse Fatigue," a broad but sometimes hilarious farce about a movie star and his double.

In awards presented outside the Official Competition section, 23-year-old New Jersey filmmaker Kevin Smith received the prize of the Critics' Week, a French critics union, for his independent feature "Clerks." Sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, the prize carries with it a cash award of 60,000 francs -- about $10,000 or a bit more than one-third of "Clerks' " $27,000 budget. Still, Mr. Smith said that his biggest kick in Cannes was a night hanging out with Simon Le Bon, the fondly remembered lead singer of Duran Duran.

The Camera d'Or, presented by yet another jury for the best first feature of the festival, went to the French film "Small Arrangements With the Dead" by Pascal Ferran.

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