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Turkish film Winter Sleep picks up top prize at Cannes

Winter Sleep has bagged the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Festival, impressing critics with its Chekovian tones and understated acting.

Clocking in at over three hours and with its themes of isolation and breakdown, Winter’s Sleep was never going to be an easy watch but critics were blown away by the direction and performances by Haluk Bilginer, Melisa Sozen and Demet Akbag.

Jury president, director Jane Campion, praised the film, saying: "If I had the guts to be as honest about his characters as this director is, I'd be very proud of myself.” Fellow jury member, director Nicolas Winding Refn said: "We all felt it was an incredible spiritual film with terrific performances. I cried at the end."

Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino, along with actor Uma Thurman, whose film Pulp Fiction celebrates its 20-year anniversary this year, awarded director Nuri Bilge Ceylan the top prize. Ceylan thanked festival-goers and organisers for supporting such a long film, and dedicated his award "to the young people of Turkey who have lost their lives during the last year."
Winter Sleep wins in Cannes

The director remarked that the win was especially important this year as Turkish cinema marks its hundredth anniversary. The last time a Turkish film took the top prize at Cannes was in 1982 when Yol, a story about the aftermath of the 1982 coup, took audiences by storm.

Timothy Spall won best actor for his role of artist Turner in the Mike Leigh biopic of the same name. Spall remarked that he’d been the bridesmaid many times at Cannes, but this was “the first time I’ve ever been the bride.” Spall’s performance was notable for its emotional depth, and they way he portrayed the artist, who was famous for his tics which included grunting and snorting.

Wrestling film Foxcatcher won best director for Bennett Miller, whose previous films include Moneyball and Capote. Starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher is the story of Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz.

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan won best screenplay award with its adaptation of the Book of Job depicting a man fighting state and church corruption in contemporary Russia.

Alice Rohrwacher picked up the Grand Prix (the runner’s up award) for her film The Wonders, which was one of just two films in the competition that were directed by women.

Third place was tied by Jean-Luc Godard for Goodbye to Language, a 3D film about his dog, and Xavier Dolan for his film Mommy, about a teenager with ADHD and his mother.

The 67th Cannes film festival jury was headed by Campion and directors Sofia Coppola and Nicolas Winding Refn, and actors Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal.

Full list of winners
Palme d'Or: Winter Sleep, Nuri Bilge Ceylon
Grand Prix: The Wonders (Alice Rohrwacher)
Director: Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Actor: Timothy Spall, Mr Turner
Actress: Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Jury Prize: Mommy (Xavier Dolan) and Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard)
Screenplay: Andrey Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, Leviathan

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