“Of Gods and Men,” a tale of Christian monks who were killed by fundamentalists in Algeria in 1995, nabbed best film and actor for Michael Lonsdale.
“I’m not a big champion of awards,” said Lonsdale on stage. ” The only prize I ever received was a certificate for breaking the sound barrier on a Concorde flight on my way to New York.”
Pic, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes and went on to gross $24.7 million in Gaul, is France’s entry in the foreign-language Oscar race.
Repped by Wild Bunch, the film has been sold in all major territories. Sony Pictures Classics will release the pic stateside on Feb. 25.
Meanwhile, Roman Polanski, who was feted with a tribute at the event, nabbed the director and screenplay nods (shared with co-writer Robert Harris) for “The Ghost Writer.”
Polanski’s film has won a flurry of kudos since bowing at Berlin in 2010. Most recently, pic swept six trophies at the European Film Awards, including film, director and actor for Ewan McGregor.
Presented by Serge Toubiana, general director of the French cinematheque, Polanski’s tribute featured the screening of his 1958 short film “Two Men and a Wardrobe” and a restrospective of exclusive photos capturing the highlights of his 50-year career.
“It’s a special prize for me because it comes from the press, which hasn’t always been my best friend,” said Polanski in French. The director later got back on stage after the screening of his short to apologize. “This is very embarassing for me to see this. I was only 19,” he said.
The thesp nod went to Kristin Scott Thomas for her work in Gilles Paquet-Brenner drama “Sarah’s Key.”
Based on Tatiana de Rosnay’s novel, pic world preemed at Toronto and was later acquired by the Weinstein Co. for U.S. distribution.
The Francophone film award went to Mahamat-Saleh Haroun for “A Screaming Man,” which bowed in competition at Cannes last year.
Belgian helmer Olivier Masset-Depasse’s drama “Illegal” nabbed the TV5Monde nod, which is voted on by the general delegates of Francophone festivals.
Antonin Chalon and Yahima Torres won best newcomers for their performances in Zabou Breitman’s “No and Me” and Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Black Venus,” respectively.
The Lumieres — France’s equivalent of the Golden Globes — were created in 1995 by Gallic producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier and Newsweek foreign correspondent Edward Behrare, and are voted on by foreign journalists based in Paris.