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Romanian director Cristian Mungiu accepts the Palme d'Or for his film 4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 days, during the award ceremony Sunday at the festival in Cannes in southern France. ((Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press))

Romanian director Cristian Mungiu took home the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday for his harrowing film about illegal abortion, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

The low-budget film was a critical hit during the 60th festival at the French resort city and beat out 21 other feature films for the coveted Palme d'Or.

The film is set in Communist-era Romania and follows the story of a student who endures horrible consequences as she tries to ensure her friend can have an abortion.

The Grand Prix, considered to be the second most prestigious award at the festival, was awarded to Japanese director Naomi Kawase for The Mourning Forest.

The film follows the story of a retirement home resident and a caretaker at the facility as they try to cope with loss.

The Jury Prize was shared by two films this year. Marjane Satrapi of Iran and Vincent Paronnaud ofFrance received the award for Persepolis and Carlos Reygadas ofMexico for Silent Light.

Persepolis, an animated feature, was adapted from Satrapi's graphic novels of the same name and offersa comedic take ongrowing up in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Silent Light explored forbidden love among Mennonite farmers in northern Mexico.

The best director award went to American painter-director Julian Schnabel for his French-language film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

The film is based on a memoir by a French magazine editor who became paralyzed after a stroke and learned to write again by blinking his eyelid into a sensor.

American director Gus Van Sant was awarded the 60th Anniversary Prize for his film Paranoid Park. The film focuses on a teenage skateboarder whose life is forever altered after he accidentally kills a security guard.

Van Sant won the festival's top prize in 2003 for his film Elephant.

The best actor award went to Russian actor Konstantin Lavronenko who played a troubled husband in The Banishment.

South Korea's Jeon Do-yeon won the best actress honour for her role as a widow struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband in Secret Sunshine.

British director Stephen Frears presided overthe jury, which included Australian actress Toni Collette, Canadian actress and director Sarah Polley, and actresses Maggie Cheung and Maria De Medeiros.

The lineup was touted as the strongest in recent years of the festival with a host of serious films that explored war, death and loss.

The awards marked the end of the 12-day festivalthat was litteredwith stars, industry moguls and endless parties.

With files from the Associated Press