‘White God’ wins Un Certain Regard at Cannes, as critics pick ‘Winter Sleep’

CANNES – Tomorrow evening — a day earlier than usual — Jane Campion's jury will present their awards for the best of this year's Competition, culminating in this year's Palme d'Or winner. We'll be handicapping those awards later, but first, the festival is already fully in the prizegiving mood, as the Un Certain Regard, Critics' Week, Directors' Fortnight, FIPRESCI and Ecumenical juries have all presented their own awards.

And the outcome in Un Certain Regard, in particular, has me cheering. Hungarian auteur Kornel Mundruzco's “White God,” a uniquely visceral thriller about a canine uprising, might be my favorite film of the entire festival, so I'm delighted to see that the section's Paolo Trapero-led jury agreed, handing it their top prize. It's a well-deserved win for a film that was added late to the lineup, and that many thought should have been in Competition — where Mundruczo's last two films premiered. (You can read my thoughts on the film in my Variety review here.)

Swedish director Ruben Ostlund's “Force Majeure,” with which I look forward to catching up on Sunday, took the runner-up Jury Prize. A special award, meanwhile, was presented to veteran filmmaker Wim Wenders and his collaborator Juliano Ribeiro Salgadas for their documentary “The Salt of the Earth.” Two acting prizes were presented: one to David Gulpilil, the long-serving Aboriginal star “Charlie's Country,” and another to the ensemble of section opener “Party Girl.”

The FIPRESCI critics' jury, however, did not see eye-to-eye with Trapero's team, instead handing their award in the Un Certain Regard section to Argentine auteur Lisandro Alonso's Viggo Mortensen-starring puzzler “Jauja,” a film treasured by many critics (though not this one).

FIPRESCI's pick in the Competition section is Nuri Bilge Ceylan's talky, 196-minute character study “Winter Sleep,” a film favored by many to take the Palme d'Or. The FIPRESCI win isn't necessarily a good omen: the critical and Competition juries agreed on “Blue is the Warmest Color” last year, but they went to different films for three straight years before then. French youth romance “Les Combattants,” which was heavily buzzed before the festival, was also named the best film of the combined Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week sections.

“Les Combattants” also ruled the Directors' Fortnight sections, becoming the first film in Cannes history to win all three of the section's prizes: the Art Cinema Award, Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers” SACD Prize and the Europa Cinemas Label. Similarly dominant in the Critics' Week section is Ukrainian sign-language drama “The Tribe,” which took the Grand Prize from jury president Andrea Arnold, also winning a Revelation Prize and a Fondation Gan grant.

Finally, the Ecumenical Jury presented their top prize — recognizing films of outstanding humanity and/or spirituality — to Abderrahmane Sissako's lovely, moving “Timbuktu.” Wim Wenders' film received a special mention, as did  his fellow Un Certain Regard inclusion “Beautiful Youth.”