VIDEO - Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar won the best screenplay prize in Cannes on Sunday for "Footnote" about the rivalry between a father-son pair of Talmudic scholars.
US actress Rosario Dawson presented the prize at a gala awards ceremony. The jury was chaired by Robert De Niro, and other members included actors Jude Law, Uma Thurman and Liv Ullmann and director Olivier Assayas.
'Footnote' cast and crew in Cannes (Photo: Getty Images)
"We are very happy," the film's producer David Mandil, who returned to Israel from the festival two days ago, told Ynet. "As a person who escorted this film from its very first word, I think it's amazing.
"Things are unexpected, and anyone working in the film industry knows that the film always takes you to places you never dreamed of. It's important that Cedar received this recognition. Everyone involved is walking on air."
'Israeli subject, universal film'
Asked about the film's Israeliness, Mandil said, "The film's subject is Israeli, but performance and way are universal. At the end of the day, cinema is an international language, and when you're talented like Cedar you manage to convey what you want to and make people connect. This ability to take a story and translate it into a unique cinematic language is worthy of respect.
"From the very first moment we knew we had an unusual screenplay. We realized that it was a different type of film, which required a different language. I am glad Cannes saw it and gave us this distinguished award."
Cedar, the film's director and screenwriter, was making his way to Cannes when the award was announced. The prize was accepted on his behalf by Sharon Harel, the film's international distributor, who thanked Cedar and the cast.
"Footnote" has been praised by many international critics during the festival. The film stars Shlomo Bar Aba, Lior Ashkenazi, Alma Zack and Yuval Scharf. Sony Pictures Classics recently acquired the rights to distribute the film in North and South America.
Cedar, 42, won an Oscar nomination for his 2007 film "Beaufort" about the Israeli army's withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
'Tree of Life.' Palme d'Or prize for best picture
Terrence Malick's expansive drama "The Tree of Life" won the festival's top honor, while Kirsten Dunst took the best-actress prize for the apocalyptic saga "Melancholia."
The Palme d'Or prize for best picture was accepted Sunday by two "Tree of Life" producers for the press-shy Malick, who skipped all public events at the glamorous Cannes festival.
Dunst won for her role in the end-of-the-world tale "Melancholia," whose director, Denmark's Lars von Trier, was banned from the festival after sympathetic remarks for Adolf Hitler at a press conference.
Jean Dujardin claimed the best-actor prize for the silent film "The Artist," in which he plays a 1920s Hollywood star whose career crumbles as talking pictures gain.
Merav Yudilovitch, AFP and The Associated Press contributed to this report
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