Cannes: Austrian director Michael Haneke was the popular winner of the Cannes film festival's top honor on Sunday with ‘Love’ (Amour), an elegiac tale of an elderly couple facing the inescapable, yet no less tragic march of death.
Haneke joins an elite group of two-time winners of the coveted Palme d'Or at the world's biggest film festival after his ‘The White Ribbon’ won in 2009.
The glamorous red carpet awards, held amid thunder, lightning and pouring rain on the French Riviera, brought to an end a 12-day blur of screenings, photo shoots, parties and deal making on Cannes' giant marketplace.
‘It's raining a little,’ deadpanned ‘The Artist’ actor Jean Dujardin, wiping his soaking forehead as he entered the theatre after signing autographs.
Haneke's moving tale set inside a Paris apartment and following a man caring for his ailing wife reduced audiences to tears. The award underlined the 70-year-old's reputation as one of the greatest European directors working today.
‘I must say I cried a lot,’ fashion designer and jury member Jean Paul Gaultier told a news conference.
‘I realized that maybe to be on the jury was not so easy because you have to have a lot of emotions sometimes that are strong and make you hurt,’ said Gaultier, speaking in English. ‘But I love to be hurt in that way.’
Love marked a shift away from Haneke's preoccupation with violence The White Ribbon and 2005's ‘Hidden.’
‘The film talks about love,’ Haneke told a press conference after receiving the Palme d'Or amid loud cheers at the awards ceremony. ‘Journalists always try to stick a label on directors and say, 'Well, he is a specialist in this or an expert in that.' For a long time, I've been the 'expert' in violence.’
Love also won plaudits for its two main actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, both in their 80s.