Cannes: Kirsten Dunst wins best actress for Melancholia

The American actress triumphs in France despite her director's ban from the film festival

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Kirsten Dunst has been awarded the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Melancholia.

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The 29-year-old picked up the gong despite the film’s Danish director, Lars von Trier, being banned from the festival last week for making offbeat comments about Hitler. 

Despite later apologising for his remarks, von Trier was not on hand to witness the jury, led by Robert De Niro, commend Dunst for her powerful performance as the utterly depressed newlywed Justine.

Elsewhere, the prestigious Palme d’Or was awarded to Terrence Malick’s epic visual poem The Tree of Life, which stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. 

Jean Dujardin won best actor for his role in The Artist, a French film focussing on the era of silent movies, and best director was reserved for Nicolas Winding Refn for the bloody thriller Drive.

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Jury members at the 64th Annual Festival de Cannes also included Uma Thurman and Jude Law.