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:: Spotlight :: Top Cannes honour for Australian film Samson & Delilah

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

SAMSON & DELILAH, the low-budget feature film debut from Australian director-writer-cinematographer, Warwick Thornton has stunned the film world by taking out the Camera d'Or (Golden Camera) at the Cannes International Film Festival.

The prize - one of the most coveted in film - was awarded by an independent jury to the best first feature film presented in any of the three Cannes selections - Official Selection, Director's Fortnight or International Critics Week.

French actress Isabelle Adjani awarded the prize to what the jury described as “the best love film we've seen for many a year.”

SAMSON & DELILAH screened in Official Selection in “Un Certain Regard” - a category reserved for films that express a personal vision, with an emphasis on special cultural expression and cinematic innovation.

“Thank you for believing in our first born baby,” Thornton said as he accepted the award. “I don't know what to say. Viva Cannes, viva le cinema.”

The Camera d'Or prize puts Thornton and his film in esteemed company. Previous winners of the Camera d'Or since its creation in 1978 include Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise); Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!); Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know) and Steve McQueen (Hunger). The prize was last won by an Australian in 1996 when Shirley Barrett won the award with her debut, Love Serenade.

Since its Australian theatrical release on May 7, SAMSON & DELILAH has become a genuine word-of-mouth sensation, growing its audience every week. The film will continue to expand onto more cinema screens over the coming weeks.

SAMSON & DELILAH tells the love story of two Aboriginal teenagers in a remote community in the Central Australian Desert and features stand-out performances by newcomers Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson.

SAMSON & DELILAH was co-produced by CAAMA Productions in association with producer Kath Shelper's company Scarlett Pictures. It was developed and financed by the Indigenous Branch of Screen Australia, and financed by the NSW Film and Television Office, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Adelaide Film Festival and the NT Film Office.

The film is distributed in Australia by Footprint Films / Transmission Films / Paramount Pictures Australia and is currently in cinemas across Australia.