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‘Grain’ gains big time at Cesars

Marion Cotillard wins actress trophy

A small France-set Maghreb immigrant drama from a young helmer, Abdellatif Kechiche’s “The Secret of the Grain,” stole the show at France’s 33rd Cesar Awards Friday, taking film, director and original screenplay, as well as breakthrough actress (Hafsia Herzi).

Produced by vet Claude Berri, “Grain” recently won the Prix Louis Delluc for best Gallic film of 2007, making it the most multi-prized movie of France’s award season.

“We haven’t had a director like Kechiche since Maurice Pialat,” Berri said. Otherwise Edith Piaf bio “La Vie en rose” largely dominated kudo affairs.

Piaf’s signature tune, “Je ne regrette rien,” was parodied in emcee Antoine de Caunes’ opening kudosfest sketch.

And judging by thundering applause, France’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences regretted little in giving actress kudos to Marion Cotillard, just in from the U.S. and bound on a plane back to L.A. Saturday. Cotillard won actress at Britain’s BAFTAs.

A near-to-tears Cotillard thanked Olivier Dahan, director of “La Vie en rose,” which also cleaned up four main tech awards, for giving her a role that had changed her life.

Mathieu Amalric, shooting the next Bond film in Panama, confirmed predictions, taking actor for his remarkable performance in Julian Schnabel’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” as a paralyzed editor who can only communicate with one eye.

“Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s B&W toon feature, which shared a Cannes jury prize last year, reaped some consolation for failing to be nommed in the Oscar foreign-language category, by clinching best first film and adapted screenplay.

Paronnaud said he and Satrapi would collaborate again, but on a live-action film.

Honorary Cesar awardee Roberto Benigni let rip with five minutes of extraordinary unabashed stream-of-consciousness pidgeon French, before asking for a minute of silence for the deceased Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman.

Academy members got to their feet to applaud the other career achievement recipient, Jeanne Moreau, celebrating 60 years of filmmaking.

Issues voiced at a droll but rarely impassioned Cesar awards sometimes echoed Hollywood concerns.

“The epicenter of piracy is China,” half-joked De Caunes. “One year after the bow of ‘Ratatouille,’ they celebrated the year of the Rat. No coincidence, eh?”

And the Cesars went to:

FILM
Abdellatif Kechiche, “The Secret of the Grain”

ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard, “La Vie en rose”

ACTOR
Mathieu Amalric, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

DIRECTOR
Abdellatif Kechiche, “The Secret of the Grain”

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Abdellatif Kechiche, “The Secret of the Grain”

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, “Persepolis”

FIRST FILM
“Persepolis,” Satrapi and Paronnaud

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Julie Depardieu, “Un secret”

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Sami Bouajila, “The Witnesses”

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, ACTRESS
Hafsia Herzi, “The Secret of the Grain”

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, ACTOR
Laurent Stocker, “Hunting and Gathering”

SOUND
Laurent Zellig, Pascal Villard and Jean-Paul Hurier, “La Vie en rose”

ORIGINAL SCORE
Alex Beaupain, “Les chansons d’amour”

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Tetsuo Nagata, “La Vie en rose”

ART DIRECTION
Olivier Raoux, “La Vie en rose”

COSTUME DESIGN
Marit Allen, “La Vie en rose”

EDITING
Juliette Welfing, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

SHORT
“Le Mozart des pickpockets,” Philippe Pollet-Villard

FOREIGN FILM
“The Lives of Others,” Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (Germany)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Terror’s Advocat,” Barbet Schroeder

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