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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Polanski's 'Pianist' Takes Palme d'Or

CANNES, France -- Roman Polanski, whose directing career has spanned nearly five decades, took his first Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for "The Pianist," a movie that forced him to delve into childhood memories of Poland's Jewish ghettos.

Director David Lynch's jury awarded its prizes Sunday to a diverse group of films, from Belgian to South Korean to Palestinian, from a romantic comedy to a documentary about guns.

"The Man Without a Past," a quirky Finnish movie about an amnesia victim who rebuilds his life in Helsinki's slums, took the grand prize, or second place.

Polanski, whose mother died at Auschwitz, took his inspiration from the memoirs of a Polish pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, who survived with the help of a German officer.

Accepting his award, the 68-year-old Polanski thanked the masses of Polish extras who appeared in his movie, helping to recreate the crowded ghettos of his memory.

"It's a great honor to represent Poland in this festival," Polanski told reporters. His star, Adrien Brody, wiped away tears as he watched from the audience.

The best director award was shared by a seasoned Asian filmmaker with more than 80 movies to his name and a young American who has made only four films.

Paul Thomas Anderson won for "Punch-Drunk Love," starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson, while Im Kwon-taek of South Korea was honored for "Chihwaseon," a historical epic about the life of a 19th-century Korean painter.

Best actor went to Belgium's Olivier Gourmet, who played a man obsessed with a teenager in "The Son" by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. The Dardenne brothers won the 1999 Palme D'Or for "Rosetta," and Gourmet is a regular in their movies.

Best actress went to Finland's Kati Outinen, who played a Salvation Army worker who falls in love with the amnesia victim in Kaurismaki's film.

A special prize marking Cannes' 55th anniversary went to Michael Moore, whose "Bowling for Columbine" looks at gun culture and violence in the United States, starting with the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. It was the first documentary screened in the main competition in 46 years. Moore tried to resurrect some of his high school French to thank the French for giving him a chance to show his movie.

The jury prize, another special honor, went to "Divine Intervention" by Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, a film that used humor to depict the tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Best screenplay went to Paul Laverty for "Sweet Sixteen," British director Ken Loach's tale about a goodhearted juvenile delinquent in Scotland.

The jury was headed by U.S. director Lynch and also included actresses Sharon Stone and Michelle Yeoh and director Walter Salles.