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FILM ABOUT ABORTION TAKES CANNES’ PRIZE

By ANGELA DOLAND

Associated Press Writer

Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, at left, won the Cannes Film Festival's top prize Sunday with "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," a harrowing portrait of an illegal abortion in Communist-era Romania.The low-budget, naturalistic film about a student who goes through horrors to ensure that her friend can have a secret abortion beat out 21 other movies in competition for the Riviera festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or.

The grand prize, considered the festival's No. 2 award, went to Japanese director Naomi Kawase's "Mogari No Mori" (The Mourning Forest), a movie about two people — a retirement home resident and a caretaker at the center — struggling to overcome loss.

Best director went to American painter-director Julian Schnabel for his French-language film "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," based on a memoir by a French magazine editor who became paralyzed after a stroke and learned to write again by blinking his eyelid into a sensor.

The jury awarded a special prize for Cannes' 60th anniversary to Gus Van Sant, who already won the festival's top prize in 2003 for "Elephant." The American's impressionistic "Paranoid Park" focuses on a teenage skateboarder whose life turns upside down when he accidentally kills a security guard.

Two films shared the jury prize: "Persepolis," Marjane Satrapi's moving, funny adaptation of her graphic novel about growing up during and after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which she co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud; and "Stellet Licht" (Silent Light), Carlos Reygadas' tale of forbidden love set among Mennonite farmers of northern Mexico.

Acting honors went to Russia's Konstantin Lavronenko, who played a troubled husband "The Banishment," a Russian drama about a couple whose marriage disintegrates during a stay in the country. The prize for best actress went to South Korea's Jeon Do-yeon, who played a widow struggling to cope with her husband's death in "Secret Sunshine."

German director Fatih Akin's "The Edge of Heaven," a German-Turkish cross-cultural tale of loss, mourning and forgiveness, won the prize for best screenplay. Akin both wrote and directed the film.

Earlier this weekend, a Romanian director posthumously won a secondary Cannes competition called "Un Certain Regard." Cristian Nemescu died in a car crash last year at age 27, leaving his "California Dreamin'" incomplete. Jurors had initially decided not to judge the film, about American soldiers in a small Romanian village, but changed their minds when they saw it.

For Moviecrazed coverage of other Cannes Festival films, click here.