Anti-Bush film wins Moore top prize at Cannes


FRANCE: In a decision that will dismay the White House and the Disney company, Michael Moore's highly politicised documentary, Farenheit 9/11, took the major award, the Palme d'Or, at the closing ceremony of the 57th Festival de Cannes on Saturday night. Michael Dwyer Film Correspondent reports

Artfully blending righteous anger and broad humour, the documnetary seizes every opportunity to ridicule President Bush and to attack the war on Iraq.

While the decision may be interpreted as the French film festival prominently emphasising France's opposition to the war, it is worth noting that four of the festival's nine-member jury this year are Americans, among them the panel's president, the writer and director Quentin Tarantino, who declared the jury's pride in presenting the award to Moore.

In Cannes on Saturday night, Moore reiterated the view he expressed at his festival press conference last Monday, when he said that France was a true friend of the US for over 200 years and that "only a true friend" such as France would tell the US administration that the war on Iraq was a mistake.

It marks just the second time in the history of the Cannes festival that a documentary has taken the Palme d'Or, following the 1956 victory for the Louis Malle and Jacques Cousteau film, The Silent World. The award to Moore surprised many critics at Cannes and, in particular, the US trade papers that had dismissed the film on its world premiere at the festival last Monday, after which it received a 25-minute standing ovation.

Moore, the director of the Oscar-winning Bowling For Columbine and the author of the polemical books, Stupid White Men and Dude, Where's My Country?, said he had returned home to Michigan for his daughter's graduation ceremony on Friday when he got the call to come back to Cannes and accept and unspecified award. He looked astonished and deeply moved when Tarantino declared him the winner of the premier prize, and he was unusually understated in his acceptance speech.

He said that it had been a tough few weeks as Disney has intervened to prevent Miramax Films, which Disney owns, from distributing such a political hot potato in an election year.

"I hear that we have a distributor in Albania now. That means my film will now be seen in every country around the world, except one", he said, referring to the US. He added: "I want to make sure that all those who died in Iraq did not die in vain."

The runner-up prize at Cannes went to the South Korean drama, Old Boy; Maggie Chueng was named best actress for her role in the French entry, Clean; and the jury's surprising choice for best actor was the 14-year-old Yagira Yura for the Japanese entry, Nobody Knows.