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26-Year-Old American Director Takes Top Award At Cannes

May 24, 1989

CANNES, France (AP) _ The first film by 26-year-old American director Steven Soderbergh, ″sex, lies and videotape,″ won the Golden Palm award at the 42nd Cannes film festival, and Americans took several other top awards.

One of the low-budget movie’s four stars, James Spader, won best actor during Tuesday night’s ceremonies and Meryl Streep was chosen best actress for her performance in ″A Cry in the Dark,″ directed by Fred Schepisi.

American Jim Jarmusch’s ″Mystery Train,″ the tale of three characters connected by a ride on the same train, took the prize for best artistic contribution.

Gregory Peck, whose latest film ″Old Gringo″ officially closed the 13-day festival, also won a special prize for lifetime contribution to cinema.

″Well, I guess it’s all downhill from here,″ said Soderburgh as he accepted the festival’s top prize. ″I don’t know what to say.″

West German director Wim Wenders, president of the jury, presented the award to Soderbergh, of Baton Rouge, La. Wenders said the movie, a surprise choice among the 22 entries, brought the jury ″an enormous joy and a great confidence in the future of cinema.″

The Jury’s Special Prize went to two films: French director Bertrand Blier’s ″Trop Belle Pour Toi″ (Too Beautiful for You) and Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore’s ″Nuovo Cinema Paradiso″ (New Paradise Cinema).

Emir Kusturica of Yugoslavia received the best director award for his movie ″Dom Za Vesanje″ (Time of the Gypsies).

The Jury Prize went to ″Jesus de Montreal″ by Canadian director Denys Arcand. The film had been among those rumored for the Golden Palm.

Shot on a $1.2 million budget, ″sex, lies and videotape″ tells the story of a seemingly happily married, prosperous couple, whose lives are disrupted when a troubled friend returns to town, upsetting a carefully constructed system of lies and sexual betrayal.

Spader portrayed the returning friend. Impotent, he videotapes interviews with women about their sex lies as a substitute for real intimacy. The movie, through well received, had not figured in rumors for the Golden Palm.

Blier’s ″Trop Belle Pour Toi,″ starring Gerard Depardieu, tells the story of a garage owner who betrays his beautiful wife following a sudden, unexplained attraction for his less attractive temporary secretary.

″Nuovo Cinema Paradiso″ a French-Italian entry, focuses on the cinema and its demise.

″Old Gringo,″ directed by Argentine Luis Puenzo and also starring Jane Fonda, officially closed the 13-day festival. Both Peck and Ms. Fonda received standing ovations from the audience at the Palais des Festivals.

Booes could be heard from the audience when no one came forward to collect the best actress prize for Streep, who was in town only for the showing of her film on May 13. American actor Jack Palance, on stage to help present the award, accepted Streep’s prize.

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