Andreas Dresen's "Stopped on Track" and Kim Ki-duk "Arirang" shared Cannes' Un Certain Regard Prize on Saturday.
Currently appealing a seven-year prison sentence, Iranian Mohammad Rasoulof took best director for "Good Bye."
Russia's Andrei Zvyagintsev's "Elena," one of the section's best-received films by critics, won Un Certain Regard's Special Jury Prize.
The top honor double whammy -- for which the Emir Kusturica-led jury had to seek authorization from Cannes Festival authorities -- prizes two highly different films.
"Track," Dresen's naturalistic chronicle of a dying's man's last few months and his wife's attempts to cope, was a hard-to-dislike entry which many critics' found heart-wrenching.
The latest from one of Asia's most celebrated auteurs, Kim's docu/fiction feature "Arirang" has Kim bearing his soul to the camera, holed up in a shack, having abandoned commercial film-making after a near fatal accident on 2008's "Dream."
The really eye-catching plaudit, however, was Rasoulof's best director nod. That will raise the status of a filmmaker who has somewhat lived in the shadow of Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi as he, like Panahi, appeals a seven-year prison sentence and a 20-year filmmaking ban imposed by Iranian authorities.
With Rasoulof forbidden to leave Iran, his award was picked up by his wife.
Director's Fortnight honors
Meanwhile, the 43rd Director's Fortnight awarded honors Friday to two disparate visions of youth by European actor-directors -- Belgian Bouli Lanners' coming-of-age dramedy 'The Giants" and Austrian Karl Markovic's far more somber 'Breathing."
'Giants" scooped both the Art Cinema Award and the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers' SACD Prize. 'Breathing" nabbed the Europa Cinemas Label for best European film in Directors' Fortnight.
Lanners' third directorial outing, 'Giants" chronicles a summer spent by two adolescent brothers, left by their mother to fend for themselves at their grandfather's house. Sold by Memento Films Intl., and produced by Belgium's Versus Prods, France's Haut et Court and Luxembourg's Samsa Film, 'Giants" stood out in Directors' Fortnight not only from its selection as the section's closing film but also as a singularly crowd-pleasing view of adolescence.
Also written by Markovics, the Films Distribution-sold 'Breathing" turns on an on-probation teen offender who picks up work at the Vienna municipal morgue, then sets out to find his mother. Produced by Austria's Epo-Film Prods., it toplines Thomas Schubert, Karin Lischka, Gerhard Liebmann and Georg Friedrich.
The Art Cinema Award is given by the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE), an arthouse association.
The SACD Prize is limited to French-language films. Europa Cinemas provides operational and financial incentives to its 1,036 member cinemas to encourage them to screen European films.