‘Sunday’ nabs top Deauville prize

DEAUVILLE, France — Jonathan Nossiter’s “Sunday” won the Grand Prix at the 23rd Deauville Festival of American Cinema Sunday. Neil LaBute’s “In the Company of Men” and Victor Nunez’s “Ulee’s Gold” shared the second-place Jury Prize. The 10 competition entries — including world preems “Julian Po” and “Six Ways to Sunday” — were shown Sept. 8-12. Fest ran Sept. 5-14.

Citing “Sunday’s” “lyricism and talent” and wearing more than 135 carats of flawless diamonds courtesy of Harry Winston, jury president Sophie Marceau beamed as versatile helmer-cum-wine steward Nossiter delivered a lengthy and heartfelt speech in flawless French. The grateful laureat praised his hosts for “managing to hang on to your love of cinema” and thanked his “courageous” cast for “helping us dream without putting us to sleep.” “Sunday” also nabbed the Critics Prize.

The Fun Radio Trophy, awarded by a youth jury, went, in a tie, to “In the Company of Men” and Mark Waters’ “The House of Yes.” Actor Aaron Eckhart, accepting for “Men,” quipped, “It’s kind of sick and frightening that French youth picked two movies that deal with incest and misogyny.”

The audience award (sponsored by the French edition of Premiere magazine) went to Bart Freundlich’s “The Myth of Fingerprints.” Freundlich said his first film had taught him, “You can write a script by yourself but you can’t make a movie by yourself.”

Kevin Smith, whose “Clerks” was a smash in Deauville, returned triumphant with “Chasing Amy.” Tom DiCillo, whose “Living in Oblivion” won the first edition of the Deauville competition in 1995, provided fest closer “The Real Blonde” with Matthew Modine and Catherine Keener in attendance for the comedy’s world preem.

Sunday also saw the world preem of accomplished costumer “Firelight,” written and directed by William Nicholson. The forthcoming Hollywood Pictures release stars Marceau as a Swiss governess whose highly unusual contribution to an English household circa 1838 becomes part of a wrenching emotional puzzle.

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