Last Updated: May 25, 2008By

(BY ALI NADERZAD) In a ceremony that’s brief by the standards created by the Academy Awards (just under an hour) this year’s winners were announced without much pomp or fanfare leaving the emphasis on the films themselves. Laurent Cantet‘s Entre les Murs, a docudrama about troublesome school children in the Parisian public school system won the Palme D’Or. This was one of the most crowded stages in Cannes history as Cantet arrived on stage with the entire classroom. The film is almost painfully close to reality, making you think this is more docu than drama–a well deserved award for a well above-average work. Le Silence de Lorna by The Dardenne brothers (Belgium) won Best Screenplay, which automatically designates the Dardennes presidents of the Un Certain Regard jury next year. A big surprise at Cannes this year was Sandra Corvolani‘s win for Best Actress award for her role in Walter SallesLinha De Passe. Corvolani had left pregnant for Brazil and ended up losing the child. Producer Daniela Thomas and Salles came on stage to accept the award on her behalf. French actress Valerie Lemercier brought some great comic relief to the ceremony by mock offering to rendez-vous with Benicio del Toro who won Best Actor for Che (Steven Soderberg). Paolo Sorrentino‘s Il Divo portrait of one of Italy’s most dangerous politicians Giulio Andreotti won the Jury Prize. His acceptance speech was short and he made no reference to his film’s political context or Italy’s government. A somewhat surprising award was Best Directing which went to Nuri Bilge Ceylan for Three Monkeys. Films like Gomorra (Mateo Garrone) would have been deserving. But not all is lost since Gomorra, a fresco of community life in a sordid outskirt of Naples won the Grand Prix. A stunned Garrone accepted his prize and simply said “thank you.” Where the 61st Cannes Film Festival had a slip-up was with the questionable 61st Festival award, a meaningless repeat of the previous year’s award. Last year the Festival turned sixty and an award was given in this honor. On the 61st year, however, the award has lost its sense, especially that inexplicably the award went to both Clint Eastwood and Catherine Deneuve for her turn in Arnaud Desplechin‘s Un Conte De Noel. Only Deneuve showed up on stage and thanked the jury–no news of Eastwood. It’s also worthwhile to mention that on the Un Certain Regard side, Steve McQueen‘s Hunger well-deservedly won the Camera D’Or, a prize which is handed once to a filmmaker for a first-time work.