Michael Haneke's tender story of the loss of a lifelong love, Amour, is the recipient of the Palme d'Or for best film at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, in a ceremony held on the French Riviera overnight.
The unsentimental film was widely tipped as the front-runner after it held its world premiere in the Official Selection at the event. It marks the second time in three years that Haneke has received Cannes' highest honour. (He won it previously in 2009 for The White Ribbon.)
The jury appears to have favoured the 'realist' films in the Official Selection, also awarding the Jury Prize to Ken Loach for his working class comedy/drama The Angel's Share, and honouring Danich actor mads Mikkelson for his standout performances as a kindergarten teacher accused of paedophilic behaviour, in Tomas Vinterberg's The Hunt. Best actress was shared amongst the two leads of Romanian director Cristian Mungiu's Beyond The Hills.
One exception to the trend was the awarding of the Best Director palme to Mexican director Carlos Reygardos, whose Post Tenebras Luxe was the most divisive film in the festival, for its beguiling (some might say nonsensical) collection of scenes from family life.
Following the official ceremony, Moretti elaborated briefly on the jury's decision-making process.
"Without going into details, no prize was agreed on unanimously, a middle ground that would have pleased no one," he said. "I noted in general that several directors seemed more in love with their own style than with their characters. Leos Carax (Holy Motors), Ulrich Seidl (Paradies: Liebe), and Carlos Reygadas' films were the ones that most divided the jury."
There was little surprise in the awarding of the Camera d'Or for best first feature film, to Benh Zeitlin for his extraordinary debut film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, a fable about a young girl's experience of tragedy in a post-Katrina swampland in America's deep south.
The full list of winners is as follows:
Palme d'Or: Amour, Michael Haneke (dir)
Grand Prix: Reality, Matteo Garrone (dir)
Best Director: Carlos Reygados, Post Tenebras Luxe
Jury Prize: The Angel's Share, Ken Loach
Best Performance by an Actor: Mads Mikkelson, The Hunt
Best Performance by an Actress: Cristina Flutur and Cosima Stratan, Beyond The Hills
Best Short Film: Silent, L. Rezan Yesilbas (dir)
Camera d'Or: Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Prix Un Certain Regard: After Lucia, Michel Franco (dir)
Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize: Le Grand Soir, Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern (dirs)