Turkish film wins Palme d'Or

The soulful, dialogue-heavy Turkish drama won the coveted Palme d'Or at the 67th Cannes Film Festival on Saturday. "I dedicated this film to the young people who lost their lives [in a protest last year]", says Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a respected filmmaker who now cements his status as a modern master.

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The film, "Winter Sleep", runs over three hours and takes place entirely in a remote village in Anatolia where a rich landlord rules over the poor, struggling villagers. A marital tension is at the centre of the narrative, though the film is a profound exploration into social issues plaguing Turkey, such as the role of Islam and the urban-rural anxiety.

As of now, there's no Thai distributor of the film. Since 2008, all Palme d’Or winners were released in Thai theatres, including last year's lesbian sensation "Blue is the Warmest Colour" — but Ceylan's film, while not boring for a second, is considered daunting because of its length and intellectual heft. Ceylan was in Bangkok in the mid-2000s, to screen his film at World Film Festival of Bangkok, and hopefully his new film will have a chance to screen in the city again. 

The Turkish win is not unexpected, though some critics were also betting on the Canadian mother-child melodrama "Mommy", by the maverick 25-year-old director Xavier Dolan. The film, which tells the story of an ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) teenager and his mother, was hugely popular among the audience here, and the idea of Dolan becoming the youngest Palme laureate was tantalising.

In the end, however, "Mommy" won the Jury Prize (a kind of honorary mention), which, in a sensational decision of the jury led by Jane Campion, it shares with another film, "Adieu au langage" (“Goodbye to Language”), an experimental visual mash-up by Jean-Luc Godard. It means that the youngest (25) and oldest (84) filmmakers in the Competition shared the same honour — which showed either the jury's sense of humour or an officiation of cinematic legacy.   

As of now, "Mommy" and "Adieu au langage" have no Thai distributor. Dolan's previous films, nevertheless, were screened at World Film Festival of Bangkok before.

The film that will surely come to Thai theatres is "Foxcatcher", which won the Best Director trophy. Bennett Miller’s film stars Channing Tatum as a wrestler who nurtures a love-hate relationship with an eccentric billionaire John Dupont, played by Steve Carrell. It's believed that the film will be a major player in the Oscar race later in the year. 

From England, Timothy Spall won Best Actor for portraying the artist JMW Turner in the film "Mr Turner", by director Mike Leigh. Meanwhile Julianne Moore won the Best Actress prize for playing a neurotic actress in "Maps to the Stars", a black comedy about dysfunctional Hollywood families. The film is likely to have a theatrical release in Thailand soon. 

In a strong year in the Competition, the small Italian film "Le Meraviglie" (The Wonders) won the Grand Prix, or the runner-up prize, and the Russian film "Leviathan", a Biblical allegory set in modern, greed-rampant Russia, won Best Screenplay. Both films are unlikely to arrive in Bangkok cinemas. 

The sole Asian film in the Competition was the Japanese drama "Still the Water" by Naomi Kawase. It was modestly received but failed to win any prize.

The 67th Cannes Film Festival Winners

Palme d'Or: Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Grand Prix: Le Meraviglie (The Wonders) by Alice Rohrwacher

Best Director: Bennett Miller, from the film "Foxcatcher"

Jury Prize: Mommy by Xavier Dolan and Adieu au langage by Jean-luc Godard

Best Screenplay: Leviathan by Andrey Zvyagintsev

Best Actress: Julianne Moore from Maps to the Stars

Best Actor: Timothy Spall from Mr Turner

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