Michael Haneke, photo taken by Georges Biard

Austrian director Michael Haneke has won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival for the second time in three years. He picked up the Palme d’Or in 2009 for disquieting drama The White Ribbon and has claimed it again this year for Amour (Love), a tender portrait of an elderly couple. Haneke is only the sixth director to win the award twice; others who have achieved this feat include Emir Kusturica and Francis Ford Coppola.

Michael Haneke, photo taken by Georges Biard

Well known for his graphic and uncomfortable explorations of screen violence, Haneke surprised many with Amour, which has been universally described as gentle and moving. However, not many were surprised that the film was awarded the Palme d’Or; after it premièred at the festival, Amour quickly became the critic’s favourite to take home the top prize. The film stars Jean Louis Trintignant and Emanuelle Riva as an elderly couple struggling to deal with the debilitating after effects of a series of strokes.

Also recognised at this year’s festival was Matteo Garrone (director of 2008’s gritty gangster hit, Gomorrah), who picked up the Grand Prix for Reality, a satire on reality television. Celebrated British director Ken Loach, who won the Palme d’Or in 2006 with The Wind That Shakes the Barley, took home this year’s Jury Prize for his film The Angel’s Share, the witty tale of a whiskey heist. Best Actor went to Mads Mickkelson for his role in The Hunt, while Best Actress was a tie between Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan for Beyond the Hills, a drama about a nun and her ex-lover.

However, leaving aside Ken Loach, the festival jury seemed not to be particularly enamoured of the English language offerings this year. On the Road, an adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel directed by Walter Salles and starring Twilight’s Kristen Stewart, received no awards and the same went for David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, which features Stewart’s Twilight co-star, Robert Pattinson. The Paperboy, in which Nicole Kidman and Zac Effron star as volatile lovers, was also left out of the prizes.

For the full list of main Jury prizes handed out at Cannes 2012, see below:

Palme D’Or: Amour (Michael Haneke)

Grand Prix: Reality (Matteo Garrone)

Jury Prize: The Angel’s Share (Ken Loach)

Director: Carlos Reygadas (Post Tenebras, Lux)

Actor: Mads Mikkelson (The Hunt)

Actress: Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan (Beyond the Hills)

Screenplay: Cristian Mungiu (Beyond the Hills)

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