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By Paul Majendie
CANNES, France (Reuters) - A pair of flatulent bulldogs were picked Friday for the top dog award at Cannes.
The "Palm Dog" prize for best canine performance in a film has become a regular feature at the festival, running alongside, albeit at a respectful distance from, the Palme d'Or award.
Judges of the annual spoof award -- five British and French journalists -- finally settled on the bulldogs owned by renowned American wine critic Robert Parker.
The dogs made an explosive appearance in the documentary "Mondovino" that traced the trials and tribulations of vineyards around the world.
They made their presence smelt while documentary film-maker Jonathan Nossiter was interviewing Parker, whose wine quality ratings are considered among the most influential in the business.
"Our winners are two flatulent bulldogs called Edgar and Hoover," said jury chairman Toby Rose, a British journalist who instituted the award four years ago.
"It is very amusing as Parker is the world's leading nose. Does it have an effect on the sensitivity of his nostrils one wonders," Rose said.
In a vintage year, honorable mention was given to the bulldog who dramatically expires on screen in the Tom Hanks black comedy "The Lady Killers."
"There were an enormous amount of dog performances in films at Cannes this year," Rose told Reuters.
But the Mondovino bulldogs won hands down, ably supported by a host of "extras," the family dogs who roamed around the various vineyards Nossiter visited for the film .
"They were so natural and the film was given the prize because of its collective canine commitment," said Rose who presented an overjoyed Nossiter the black leather Palm Dog collar with gold lettering.
"Dogs are more than indispensable to the big screen," said Rose who would dearly love to cross the Atlantic with his annual awards. "Roll on the dog Oscars," he said.
Rose, the proud owner of a nine-year-old fox terrier called Mutt, said: "Animals do have key roles but are never in a position to be recognized."
Pressed to name the greatest ever canine performance on the silver screen, he said: "Lassie and Rin Tin Tin would be up there as major contenders.
"But I would go for the dog in "As Good As It Gets." Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson were up for Oscars. The dog never had a chance."