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'Secrets and Lies' takes top honor at Cannes Film Festival


May 20, 1996
Web posted at: 7:30 p.m. EDT

CANNES, France (CNN) -- British film director Mike Leigh won the prestigious Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival Monday for his film "Secrets and Lies." (859K QuickTime movie)

Actress Brenda Blethyn, who portrays in the film a white woman struggling to reunite with the black daughter she abandoned, was named best actress.

"It's wonderful, it's delightful, it's terrific,' said Leigh at a news conference after the awards ceremony. "It's wonderful that there is this encouragement for films about ordinary people, for those of us making films which are not banal but about the essence of living."


Leigh won best director at Cannes three years ago with his film "Naked."

"Secrets and Lies" was a front-runner for the award after winning the International Critics Prize announced Sunday night.

Actors Daniel Auteuil and Pascal Duquenne shared the best actor award for their work in Belgian filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael's "The Eighth Day." The film chronicles the friendship between one man and another who has Down's Syndrome. Duquenne, a Belgian actor, has the condition.


The second-place Grand Prize in the festival went to "Breaking the Waves," the first English-language film by Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier.

U.S. filmmaker Joel Coen was named best director for "Fargo." Coen won the Golden Palm in 1991 for "Barton Fink." The French film "A Self-Made Hero," about a man who falsely claims to be a World War II Resistance hero, won for best screenplay.

The special jury price went to Canadian David Cronenberg for "Crash." The film, which links car wrecks and sexuality, was honored for "originality, daring, and audacity."

U.S. director Robert Altman was also honored at the gala awards ceremony. Altman, who has had eight films shown at the festival including this year's "Kansas City," was decorated with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor for lifetime achievement.

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