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French critics go ‘Public’

Resnais, Almodovar top Gallic honors

Alain Resnais’ “Private Fears in Public Places” was voted best Gallic film of 2006 by the French Union of Film Critics on Monday night.

The awards, first given in 1946, are voted on by the 200-plus members of the nationwide org.

Adapted from a play by Alan Ayckbourn, Resnais’ bittersweet ensembler is set in a stage-crafted Paris where it’s always snowing and there’s an accompanying layer of frost on most of the characters’ hearts (French title “Coeurs” means “hearts”). Pic is nominated for eight Cesars.

Pedro Almodovar’s “Volver” took the foreign pic nod, instituted in 1967. The competition was stiff: A total of 388 films from 49 countries got theatrical releases last year, with 180 American pics in the mix. Almodovar won previously in 2002 for “Talk to Her.”

Best first film, out of 74 Gallic contenders, went to Jean-Pierre Darroussin for “The Premonition,” in which he stars as a well-born Parisian who decides to simplify his life by living among the common folk, only to encounter unforeseen complications.

The English language carried the day in the DVD category with Brian de Palma’s “Phantom of the Paradise” from Opening Editions taking best single disc and the Lumiere Institute’s two-volume Michael Powell collection earning best boxed-set honors.

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