05/27/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
As far as Cannes was concerned, it was Columbine, yes -- but Kidman, no.
One year after Michael Moore's documentary "Bowling for Columbine" won a special award in Cannes, "Good Will Hunting" director Gus Van Sant's minimalist feature-film take on the massacre, "Elephant," took the Palme d'Or for best picture and the best director award Sunday at the 56th annual Cannes Film Festival.
It's been nine years since an American film took the top prize, notes Reuters. (That was Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction.")
It was something of a surprise that the Cannes jury -- which last year named Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" its best picture -- also overlooked maverick Danish director Lars von Trier's "Dogville," starring Nicole Kidman.
The drama, about a woman's attempt at acceptance in a small town, had been the odds-on favorite to snatch the Palme d'Or, despite its lack of commercial possibilities, according to trade reports.
But that was not the case. Still, the difficult, three-hour movie -- which some critics called a tongue-in-cheek propagandist attack on American values (von Trier has never visited America) -- has been picked up by a U.S. distributor, meaning that it will be released here.
Cannes's best actress award went to Marie-Josee Croze for her role in "The Barbarian Invasion," which also took best screenplay for its French-Canadian director, Denis Arcand ("Decline of the American Empire").
The two stars of the Turkish film "Uzak," Muzaffer Ozdemir and Mehmet Emin Toprak, shared the best actor award. Sadly, Toprak died in a car crash shortly after the film was selected for Cannes. He was 28.