Brad Pitt and Laramie Eppler Brad Pitt and Laramie Eppler

The director of the best film at Cannes wasn't there to collect his award. But it wasn't because Lars von Trier won. Instead, it was the famously publicity-shy Terrence Malick, whose The Tree of Life took the Palme d'Or.

The Associated Press reported that the producers of the winning movie, which stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain and opens Friday in the United States, accepted the prize instead.

Lars von Trier is "persona non grata" at Cannes

Kirsten Dunst, who sat next to von Trier as he made the comments that got him banned from the film festival, won the Best Actress prize for her performance in his film Melancholia.

"Wow, what a week it's been," Dunst said, according to the AP. She expressed appreciation to the festival organizers for keeping von Trier's movie in competition despite his remarks, adding: "I want to thank Lars for giving me the opportunity to be so brave."

Catch up on today's news

The winner of the Best Actor award, chosen by the jury headed by Robert De Niro, was Jean Dujardin, who starred in the silent film The Artist.

Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn won the directing award for Drive, an action thriller starring Ryan Gosling.