CANNES, France (REUTERS) - An Icelandic movie about two sheepfarming brothers who have not spoken in 40 years but are brought together by an outbreak of a disease that threatens their flocks won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.
Hrutar (Rams), by director Grimur Hakonarson, took the top prize in the grouping of 19 films in the festival's second-most important competition.
The films are chosen to display filmmaking techniques and trends in a variety of cultures and countries around the world.
Jury president Isabella Rossellini said viewing the entries "was like taking a flight over the planet and seeing all the inhabitants and their emotions".
Hakonarson said winning was a surprise, but he was delighted.
"There are very good films in this programme and very big directors," he said. "I didn't expect this. I'm in heaven."
The film is set in remote northern Iceland, among sheepfarmers whose livelihood is threatened by an outbreak of scrapie that is fatal to sheep and requires all their flocks to be put down, but the director thought it would strike a chord with anyone.
"I think it's a universal story, it's a story about family conflicts, even though it's an Icelandic film, it seems to touch the hearts of the audience, you know, but the film, it's also entertaining, it's also funny," he said.
"It's a mixture of drama and comedy and we seem to have, maybe, profited from that a little."
Japanese auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa got the Best Director award for his latest film Kishibe No Tabi (Journey To The Shore).
The Jury Prize went to Croatian director Dalibor Matanic for Zvizdan, and the Un Certain Talent prize was awarded to Romanian Corneliu Porumboiu's Comoara (The Treasure).
The special jury prizes for debut films (Prix de l'avenir) went to Nahid by Iran's Ida Panahandeh and Masaan by Neeraj Ghaywan of India.
The main competition winners will be announced on Sunday.