CANNES, France - Dogs triumphed in Cannes Friday as Hungarian canine thriller "White God" won the film festival's prestigious prize for innovative work, just hours after its four-legged stars scooped up the unofficial Palm Dog award for pooch talent.
The latest film by Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo beat Ryan Gosling's widely panned directorial debut and 18 other movies to take top honours in the Un Certain Regard competition, which seeks to recognise new talent or encourage innovative, daring work.
"White God" was just that, according to critics, sending viewers on a strange dystopian ride, with the plot centred on Hagen, a gentle, golden-furred mongrel who is denigrated by every human being except his devoted, 13-year-old owner Lili.
When the lonely girl finds herself staying with her father after her mother travels abroad, problems abound, and Lili's dad ends up abandoning the dog on the side of a highway.
Unused to being alone, a whimpering Hagen has to survive with other strays - including a cute mutt which saves him from more than one scrape.
Lili desperately looks for her friend, whose trust in humans proves to be his downfall. He is sold off to a man who trains him how to fight, gradually turning the adoring dog into a violent, killing machine.
By the end of the film, an unrecognisable Hagen rises up against his oppressors and leads a pack of other strays on a murderous spree through Budapest.