MONTREAL — Daily Variety chief film critic Todd McCarthy was awarded the Maurice Bessy Prize for his contributions to the world of film criticism at a ceremony Monday at the Montreal World Film Festival.

The award, which is handed out alternately at the Cannes and Montreal film festivals, comes with a $10,000 purse, provided this year by Canadian entertainment company Alliance Communications.

In accepting the honor, McCarthy said it was particularly important for him because the prize is a product of the French film tradition. It is named after former head of the Cannes film festival and influential Gallic film scribe Maurice Bessy.

“I’m quite overwhelmed to receive this award because, as a critic, one doesn’t expect to receive awards,” said McCarthy. “To me, the French language is the original home of the greatest film criticism. To get this from the world of French film criticism and to get an award named after Bessy … I appreciate it very deeply.”

In his remarks, French film industry veteran Pierre Rissient said he and the other members of the Maurice Bessy Prize committee — including Montreal festival president Serge Losique and Cannes fest topper Gilles Jacob — felt McCarthy was the ideal candidate for the honor.

“It was natural to pick Todd McCarthy, especially because of the new book on Howard Hawks,” said Rissient.

This past June, Grove Press launched McCarthy’s bio of the Hollywood auteur, titled “Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood,” the first-ever full-scale biography of the director. McCarthy is also the co-director and scripter of the 1992 pic, “Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography,” a docu on 26 leading cinematographers.

Montreal film fest boss Losique and Tunisian helmer Ferid Boughedir, another member of the Maurice-Bessy committee, were also on hand for the award presentation.

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