British director Ken Loach and Spanish star Penelope Cruz were among the big winners at the climax of the Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera earlier today (28MAY06).
The film-maker's drama THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY, which stars Cillian Murphy as an Irish medical student who joins the guerrilla war against British forces, picked up the Palme D'Or - the highest award of the festival.
Accepting the trophy, Loach said, "We live in extraordinary times and that has made people political in a way they maybe weren't in the previous four, five, six years.
"The wars that we have seen, the occupations that we see throughout the world - people finally cannot turn away from that. It's very exciting to be able to deal with this in films, and not just be a complement to the popcorn."
Cruz shared the Best Actress prize with her VOLVER castmates Carmen Maura, YOHANA COBO and Lola Duenas, while French DAYS OF GLORY stars Jamel Debbouze, SAMY NACERI and SAMI BOUAJILA were joint winners of the Best Actor prize.
In her acceptance speech, Cruz paid tribute to Volver director Pedro Almodovar, saying, "This prize really belongs to Pedro. You are the greatest, the bravest. You put so much magic into our lives. Thanks for what you do for women all over the world."
Meanwhile, Mexican film-maker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu picked up the Best Director prize for BABEL, a multi-cultural film starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
The Grand Prix - the runners up prize - was awarded to French director Bruno Dumont's FLANDERS, while British film-maker ANDREA ARNOLD accepted the Jury Prize - the 2nd runners up trophy - for her CCTV-inspired movie RED ROAD.
The nine member jury was headed by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai and included Samuel L Jackson, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth, Monica Bellucci and Ziyi Zhang.