The Cannes Film Festival ended on a strange note.
Last Sunday's awards ceremony held more surprises than usual: Films that had been hailed throughout the festival were ignored or got minor prizes. For example, Spaniard Pedro Almodovar's "All About My Mother," which had been the popular favorite for the top prize, the Golden Palm, received only one nod, the prize for best director.
The film that won the Golden Palm and shared the award for best actress was "Rosetta," one of the last movies shown at the festival and the second film from the Belgian brother team of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. "Rosetta" is a taut, draining work centering on a young woman (Emilie Dequenne, who had never acted before) struggling to survive on the fringes of society and who will do almost anything to get or keep a job. Dequenne shared her prize with another neophyte, Severine Caneele of Bruno Dumont's "Humanity."
Oddly enough, this year's jury, headed by David Cronenberg, crowned yet another novice for his acting effort, awarding Emmanuel Schotte, a former soldier, the best actor prize for his work in "Humanity." (That film, which was heavy going for many festival viewers, centering on a slow-witted policeman confronted with a brutal murder, also won the Grand Jury Prize--the runner-up for best film.) The jury chose to overlook the fine work of such experienced actors as Richard Farnsworth in David Lynch's "The Straight Story" and Bob Hoskins in Atom Egoyan's "Felicia's Journey."
None of the critically lauded American films that were in competition--Lynch's "The Straight Story," Tim Robbins's "Cradle Will Rock," Jim Jarmusch's "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" and John Sayles's "Limbo"--was acknowledged by the judges.
Members of the jury don't talk about deliberations, so there was only speculation about their thinking.
CAPTION: Cecilia Roth stands before an oversize image of Antonia San Juan in "All About My Mother."