CANNES, France -- American filmmaker Michael Moore's ''Fahrenheit 9/11," a scathing indictment of White House actions after the Sept. 11 attacks, won the top prize yesterday at the Cannes Film Festival.
''Fahrenheit 9/11" was the first documentary to win the Cannes festival's prestigious Palme d'Or since Jacques Cousteau's ''The Silent World" in 1956.
''What have you done? I'm completely overwhelmed by this. Merci," Moore said after getting a standing ovation from the Cannes crowd.
The grand prize, the festival's second-place honor, went to South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook's ''Old Boy," a blood-soaked thriller about a man out for revenge after years of inexplicable imprisonment.
Moore was momentarily flabbergasted when he took the stage to accept the award, a big difference from his fiery speech against President Bush after winning the best-documentary Academy Award for 2002's ''Bowling for Columbine."
''Fahrenheit 9/11" won the top award from sharply divided Cannes moviegoers, who found a solid crop of good movies among the 19 entries in the festival's main competition but no great ones that rose to front-runner status.
While ''Fahrenheit 9/11" was well-received by Cannes audiences, many critics felt it was inferior to Moore's Academy Award-winning documentary ''Bowling for Columbine," which earned him a special prize at Cannes in 2002.
Some critics speculated that if ''Fahrenheit 9/11" won the top prize, it would be more for the film's politics than its cinematic value.
With Moore's customary blend of humor and horror, ''Fahrenheit 9/11" accuses the Bush camp of stealing the 2000 election, overlooking terrorism warnings before Sept. 11, and fanning fears of more attacks to secure Americans' support for the Iraq war.
Moore appears on-screen far less in ''Fahrenheit 9/11" than in ''Bowling for Columbine" or his other documentaries. The film relies largely on interviews, footage of US soldiers and war victims in Iraq, and archival footage of Bush.
Just back in Cannes after his daughter's college graduation in the United States, Moore dedicated the award to ''my daughter and to all the children in America and Iraq and throughout the world who suffered through our actions."
''Fahrenheit 9/11" made waves in the weeks leading up to Cannes after the
Quentin Tarantino headed the nine-member jury that handed out prizes in Cannes' main competition. The other jurors included actresses Kathleen Turner, Tilda Swinton, and Emmanuelle Beart.
The festival is to wrap up today with encore screenings of award winners and other key movies that played the festival, including a four-hour version of Tarantino's two ''Kill Bill" installments.