The Danish movie "Pelle the Conquerer" today was named best film of the 41st Cannes Film Festival. Americans won awards for acting.

French film star Gerard Depardieu presented the Golden Palm award to Billie August, who wrote and directed "Pelle the Conquerer," the story of the hardships endured by a father and son working as cattlemen in Denmark.The prize for best actor went to American Forest Whitaker for his portrayal of jazz great Charlie Parker in the American film "Bird," directed by Clint Eastwood.

Three performers shared the best actress award - American Barbara Hershea, South African Linda Mvusi and 13-year-old Jodhi May of Britain.

The three appeared in the British film "A World Apart" which also won the festival's Special Jury Grand Prize, regarded as a sort of consolation prize given to the runner-up for the Golden Palm.

"A World Apart" deals with South Africa's apartheid system as seen through the eyes of an adolescent (Miss May) whose journalist parents (Miss Hershey and Jeroen Krabbe) are political activists. The youngster is taken into a black township by the family servant Elsie (Ms. Mvusi) who is a key to the girl's political awakening.

It was the first film by director Chris Menges, who accepted the award.

"Pelle the Conquerer" ("Pelle Erbreren") is based on a novel by Martin Anderson Nexo. It tells the story of Lasse and his 9-year-old son Pelle, who leave Sweden to work as cattlemen on a farm in Denmark. There, they are treated like slaves until Pelle revolts and goes out to conquer the world.

Max von Sydow portrays Lasse. Pelle is played by 13-year-old Pelle Hvenegaard. It was the young Danish actor's first role.

Indian director Mira Nair won the Golden Camera award given to the best young director for her film, "Salaam Bombay," shot in the streets of the Indian city and telling the story of a group of destitute children. It was the 30-year-old director's first full-length film.