Mexico's movie enfant terrible Carlos Reygadas

Mexican Carlos Reygadas, whose puzzling "Post Tenebras Lux" bagged him best director prize at Cannes on Sunday, is a darling of the festival that has showcased all four of his often impenetrable films.

The critically-acclaimed 2002 debut by the lawyer-turned-filmmaker, "Japon", tells the tale of a man on the verge of suicide who regains the will to live under decidedly unusual circumstances.

It took Cannes' Camera d'Or -- which rewards the best first feature film -- and was the start of a prize-winning streak that culminated in Sunday's scoop for "Post Tenebras Lux".

The film, whose Latin title means "After Darkness, Light" and derives from the biblical Book of Job, is a semi-autobiographical portrait of the director's family, featuring his own children.

But it baffled festival-goers with a host of unexplained elements such as a cartoon devil carrying a tool-box, a trip to a French-speaking sex club, and a rugby match in an English school.

It features Reygadas' recurring themes of violence, urban versus rural life, the divide between Mexico's indigenous people and those of European stock, and the terrifying splendour of nature.

Reygadas, whose films explore spirituality through the lives of people going through existential crises, set his latest work in the village just south of Mexico City where he lives with his wife and two children.

"Sum up the plot? It isn't possible," the 40-year-old told reporters after its Cannes press screening at which many critics booed.

"The guy's world collapses on him in the end. I always try to make a realistic film, but I include dreams, memories, the imagined future, without the codes that identify the different times," he said.

Reygadas, who discovered his passion for the cinema after watching the Russian Andrei Tarkovsky's films, later explained when asked about the rugby scenes that he had gone to an English school for a year and a half.

"Rugby's a good fit for the film," he told the New York Times. "The physicality of it matches the violence of the land, of nature, of life, but at the same time there's love."

The jury that picked "Post Tenebras Lux" for Sunday's prize said the film had divided them, but its defenders had won out in the end.

"It is full of the fragility of life, the vulnerability of life, full of tenderness," said British film-maker and jury member Andrea Arnold, while Haitian director Raoul Peck said he had "rarely seen such powerful images".

Reygadas' second film, "Battle in Heaven", which was in the running for the 2005 Palme d'Or, tells the story of the bizarre attraction between a man who kidnaps the baby of a friend and the daughter of a Mexican general who prostitutes herself for pleasure.

"Silent Light," his movie about love, death and faith, got joint third place, the Jury Prize, in the 2007 festival.

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