Cannes Film Fest 2011: Year 64–Certain Regard Awards

Andreas Dresen’s Stopped on Track and Kim Ki-duk Arirang shared Cannes’ Un Certain Regard Prize Saturday, the section’s top awards

Currently appealing a seven-year prison sentence, Iran’s Mohammad Rasoulof took best director for “Good Bye.”

Russia’s Andrei Zvyagintsev’s “Elena,” one of the section’s best-received films by critics, won Un Certain Regard’s Special Jury Prize.

The tie for the top honor, for which the Emir Kusturica-led jury had to seek authorization from Cannes Festival authorities, prizes two highly different films.

Stopped on Track, Dresen’s realistically detailed chronicle of a dying’s man’s last few months and his wife’s attempts to cope, is an emotionally touching films. Starring Milan Peschel and Steffi Kuhnert, it was likened by some critics to the films of Mike Leigh in its extensive use of improvisation and non-pro actors – even real-life medics – in secondary roles.

The latest from one of Asia’s most celebrated auteurs, Kim’s docu/fiction feature “Arirang” has Kim bearing his soul to the camera, holed up in a shack, having abandoned commercial film-making after a near fatal accident on 2008’s “Dream.”

Arirang split Cannes scribes, written-off by some critics, but revered by others as a thought-provoking reflection on the filmmaking’s profession.

Good Bye

Rasoulof’s best director kudo will raise the status of a filmmaker who has lived in the shadow of Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi as he, like Panahi, appeals a seven-year prison sentence and a 20-year filmmaking ban imposed by Iranian authorities.

Shot in semi-clandestinity, according to Cannes Festival sources, “Good Bye,” which is less oblique than Rasoulof’s earlier films, turns on a young pregnant lawyer, banned from work, who’s desperately tries to obtain an exit-visa to leave Iran.  With Rasoulof forbidden to leave Iran, his award was picked up by his wife.

Closing Un Certain Regard, Elena, from Andrei Zvyagintsev (“The Return”), is a chilling drama of a family torn apart in new Russia.

Disucssing this year’s Un Certain Regard after Saturday’s prize announcements, Cannes director Thierry Fremaux said the section was “Almost reaching my goal” of having “two film publishing houses with two kinds of collections.”  Un Certain Regard is “not second league but really different. Many of its films could have played Competition,” he added.