Top prize-winner, Fahrenheit 9/11, precedes the fireworks at the fest's conclusion

By Simon Perry
Updated May 24, 2004 08:55 AM

The 57th Cannes Film Festival ended Saturday with a bang and a swellegant, elegant party on the beach, as fireworks and Cole Porter songs echoed along the glittering Croisette, PEOPLE reports.

After provocative documentary maker Michael Moore won the top prize, the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm), for his movie Fahrenheit 9/11, the stars of the 10-day cinema carnival partied on the sand.

Behind a floating stage about 100 yards offshore, fireworks exploded to the soundtrack of familiar movie themes, from The Piano to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and the Pink Panther – an amusing nod to The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, starring Charlize Theron as actress Britt Ekland and Geoffrey Rush as Sellers himself. (The film was met with a mixed reaction during the festival.)

But the highpoint was to follow, as Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd, who star as composer Cole and wife Linda Porter in the biopic De-Lovely (which closed the festival), sang a selection of the American music titan’s songs and introduced Alanis Morissette – who performed the Porter standard, “Let’s Do It,” just as she does in the movie (which also got a mixed reception).

Sheryl Crow also performed a sultry version of another Porter classic, “Begin the Beguine.” The mini-concert ended with most of the cast members singing “It’s De-Lovely.”

Earlier, at the awards presentation, Theron handed the top prize to Moore, whose much-publicized film is highly critical of President George W. Bush and how he is handling the wars on Iraq and on terrorism.

Speaking to the 2,300 people in the audience, Moore said: “What have you done? I’m completely overwhelmed by this. Merci.” After being booed for the political sentiments he voiced at the 2003 Oscars (where he took the documentary prize for Bowling for Columbine), he added: “The last time I was on an award stage in Hollywood, all hell broke loose.”

Jury president Quentin Tarantino had told the press beforehand, “We all agreed that Fahrenheit 9/11 was the best movie of the competition.”

Later queried what he thought Bush might think of his winning the Palme d’Or, Moore asked if the President even knew what it was – then more graciously suggested that the President would probably be pleased that an American had pulled off so major accomplishment in a foreign country.