Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, an eccentric Thai film, has won the Palme d'Or at the 63rd Festival des Cannes. Director Weerasethakul, who calls himself Joe because of the difficulty Westerners have pronouncing his name, has made a ghost story about a man who is on speaking terms with supernatural beings. "This is like another world for me. This is surreal," the director said on accepting the prize at the Palais des Festivals on Sunday night. After telling jury president Tim Burton, "I really like your hairstyle," he thanked "all the spirits and all the ghosts in Thailand. They made it possible for me to be here."

Weerasethakul also thanked his parents for taking him to "a little cinema in our town 30 years ago. I didn't understand anything about film, and with this award I think I know a little more, but still it remains a mystery. This mystery keeps us coming back here to share our world."

The Grand Prix, the festival's runner-up award, was awarded to Of God and Men directed by France's Xavier Beauvois, who also helmed 2005's Le Petit Lieutenant. This film is based on the real story of a Cistercian monks in a monastery in the mountains of Algeria who had to decide whether to abandon their jobs after threats from Islamic fundamentalists.

The best actress prize went to French star Juliette Binoche for Certified Copy. Binoche is delightful in this film set in Tuscany by Iranian art-house favorite Abbas Kiarostami.

The Cannes jury split the best actor award between Italy's Elio Germano, who plays a grieving husband in Our Life, and Javier Bardem, star of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Biutiful. Bardem closed his thank-yous by saluting actress Penelope Cruz as "mi amiga, mi companera, mi amor."

WINNERS

Palme d'Or (Golden Palm): "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand)
Grand Prize: "Of Gods and Men" by Xavier Beauvois (France)
Jury Prize: "A Screaming Man" by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Chad)
Best Director: Mathieu Amalric for "On Tour" (France)
Best Actor: Javier Bardem, "Biutiful" (Mexico) and Elio Germano, "La Nostra Vita" (Italy)
Best Actress: Juliette Binoche, "Certified Copy" (Iran)
Best Screenplay: Lee Chang-Dong, "Poetry" (Korea)
Camera d'Or (first-time director): "Ano Bisiesto" by Michael Rowe (Mexico)
Best short film: "Chienne d'Histoire," by Serge Avedikian (France)