* Michael Haneke wins second Palme d'Or for "Love"
* Moving tale about end of life won critics' praise
* Strong Hollywood lineup overlooked by jury
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By Mike Collett-White and Alexandria Sage
CANNES, France, May 27 Austrian director Michael
Haneke was the popular winner of the Cannes film festival's top
honour on Sunday with "Love" (Amour), an elegiac tale of an
elderly couple facing the inescapable, yet no less tragic march
Haneke joins an elite group of two-time winners of the
coveted Palme d'Or at the world's biggest film festival after
his "The White Ribbon" won in 2009.
The glamorous red carpet awards, held amid thunder,
lightning and pouring rain on the French Riviera, brought to an
end a 12-day blur of screenings, photo shoots, parties and deal
making on Cannes' giant marketplace.
"It's raining a little," deadpanned "The Artist" actor Jean
Dujardin, wiping his soaking forehead as he entered the theatre
after signing autographs.
Haneke's moving tale set inside a Paris apartment and
following a man caring for his ailing wife reduced audiences to
tears. The award underlined the 70-year-old's reputation as one
of the greatest European directors working today.
"I must say I cried a lot," fashion designer and jury member
Jean Paul Gaultier told a news conference.
"I realized that maybe to be on the jury was not so easy
because you have to have a lot of emotions sometimes that are
strong and make you hurt," said Gaultier, speaking in English.
"But I love to be hurt in that way."
Love marked a shift away from Haneke's preoccupation with
violence The White Ribbon and 2005's "Hidden".
"The film talks about love," Haneke told a press conference
after receiving the Palme d'Or amid loud cheers at the awards
ceremony. "Journalists always try to stick a label on directors
and say, 'Well, he is a specialist in this or an expert in
that.' For a long time, I've been the 'expert' in violence."
Love also won plaudits for its two main actors, Jean-Louis
Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, both in their 80s.
HOLLYWOOD LEFT EMPTY-HANDED
Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Matthew
McConaughey and rising stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson
and Shia LaBeouf all walked the red carpet this year, putting
Hollywood at the centre of Cannes.
Yet despite five U.S. pictures appearing in the main
competition of 22 films, they all left empty-handed.
Asked about the U.S. productions in competition, and the
glamour they brought to the festival, jury president Nanni
Moretti said: "I'm not against glamour, but the glamour has to
be in films that really please me."
The Grand Prix runner-up prize was awarded to "Reality",
Matteo Garrone's examination of society's obsession with
celebrity and reality television.
Its central character Luciano was played by Aniello Arena,
an Italian serving a lengthy prison sentence who was allowed out
of jail on day release to shoot the movie.
Two other previous Palme d'Or winners picked up prizes.
British director Ken Loach won the Jury third prize for his
charming Scottish whisky caper "The Angels' Share" and Romania's
Cristian Mungiu scooped the screenplay honour for "Beyond the
Hills" about a real-life exorcism gone wrong.
His two young stars, Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan,
shared the best actress honour, while Danish star Mads Mikkelsen
scooped the best actor prize for his portrayal of a man wrongly
accused of child abuse in the harrowing drama "The Hunt".
"I'm normally a very cool person but this time I could
hardly say anything," said Mikkelsen, who was close to tears as
he collected his award.
Mexico's Carlos Reygadas won the best director category for
"Post Tenebras Lux", a dreamlike exploration of the undercurrent
of menace within Mexican society today.
On the sodden red carpet leading into the Grand Theatre
Lumiere, the cast and crew of "Therese Desqueyroux" braved the
rain for the world premiere of this year's closing film.
Annie Miller, the wife of the late director Claude Miller
who was finishing the film when he died, was in floods of tears
as she walked up the stairs and turned to face the ranks of
photographers and cameramen.
(Editing by Andrew Heavens)