CANNES–France (Reuter–Los Angeles Times–Marmara)–Egyptian-born and Canadian-raised Armenian director Atom Egoyan won the Grand Jury Prize Sunday at the close of the 50th Cannes Film Festival for "The Sweet Hereafter," a gripping account of a small British Columbia town coping with a school bus accident
The Grand Jury Prize is widely seen as the runner-up to the Golden Palm.
"I’d become impatient with my own stylistic predisposition. How do you challenge yourself? By attaching yourself to an existing property," told Egoyan to the Los Angeles Times which reported that working from a novel was a switch for the director.
Egoyan’s movie also won the International Writers Guild prize as well as the award by the World Council of Churches–the Istanbul-based Marmara Armenian newspaper reported.
The 50th Cannes festival gave two of its top awards Sunday to Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami and Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine in a strong show of support for their battles against censorship.
The jury presided over by French actress Isabelle Adjani surprised critics with a Golden Palm award to both Kiarostami–whose film "The Taste of the Cherry" almost missed the competition after Tehran authorities initially banned him from coming–and to Japan’s Shohei Imamura for "The Eel." .