‘Marius’ makes grade

Love story nabs top Lumiere prize in France

PARIS — Robert Guediguian’s Marseille-based love story “Marius et Jeannette” walked off with the top prize for best French film at the third edition of the Lumieres de Paris awards — the Gallic equivalent of the Golden Globes.

The prize, which is voted for by foreign journalists in France, comes in the wake of last week’s Prix Louis-Delluc win for “Marius et Jeannette.”

Guediguian’s seventh feature has proved to have good legs in France, grossing over $4.2 million in its first three weeks. New Yorker Films has U.S. rights.

Sharing the wealth

For the second year in a row, the Lumieres, which are organized by French film export group Unifrance, chose to give the film, director and screenplay nods to three different pics.

Despite a critical savaging at the Cannes film fest, sci-fi actioner “The Fifth Element” won the director’s prize for Luc Besson. As the helmer was not present at the awards, it was left to his producer, Patrice Ledoux of Gaumont, to accept on his behalf and to note that given Besson’s rocky relations with the press, this prize was particularly welcome. “The Fifth Element” has grossed in excess of $45 million on its home turf.

On the writing front, Manuel Poirier and Jean-Francois Goyet took the prize for their Brittany-based road movie “Western,” which is currently in final negotiations for a U.S. sale.

Serrault takes second helping

The most popular moment of what was a low-key event was the best actor nod, which went to veteran thesp Michel Serrault for his work in Claude Chabrol’s “Rien Ne Va Plus.” This was Serrault’s second Lumiere following a similar prize for his acting in “Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud.”

Another well-established name of French cinema, Miou-Miou, walked away with best actress for the comedy “Nettoyage a Sec.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the choice of best foreign film. With Brit pics “Bean” and “The Full Monty” taking the French box office by storm — together they have grossed over $37 million — it was another U.K. production, Mark Herman’s “Brassed Off,” that won the prize.

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