A Thai film won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for the very first time on Sunday. As well as having the most original title amongst the competition at this year's festival, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's 'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives' also won the top prize from the jury, which was headed by US director Tim Burton. The timing of this crowning achievement for Thai cinema comes as the country is reeling from months of civil unrest and bloodshed so it is particularly poignant that the people of Thailand have this source of pride to briefly distract them from the political turmoil that they have been enduring at home. The movie has been getting positive reviews from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety but it was still considered a longshot for the top prize, especially when there were more popular contenders like the UK's 'Another Year', directed by Cannes favorite Mike Leigh. Mr Weerasethakul is not exactly a newcomer to Cannes himself, having won a Jury Prize at the 2004 Festival for 'Tropical Malady'. This win is significant not just to Thai cinema but to Asian cinema as a whole as it is the first time that a film from Asia won the top prize in Cannes since 1997, when Japan's 'The Eel' tied with Iran's 'The Taste of Cherry'. Accepting the award, Mr Weerasethakul said: ' I would like to thank all the spirits and all the ghosts in Thailand who made it possible for me to be here. '
The actor and actress prizes went to European stars who are best known to international audiences for their respective Oscar-winning turns. France's Juliette Binoche was recognized for her performance in Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's film 'Certified Copy' while Spain's Javier Bardem shared his Best Actor award (for his work in Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'Biutiful') with Italy's Elio Germano for 'Our Life'.