Gaul’s kudos season kicked off Friday as Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” won best film and actress (Berenice Bejo) at the Lumieres Awards, the French equivalent to the Golden Globes.
Pic, which has been on an award-winning spree since bowing at Cannes, beat other Cannes titles vying for the film nod: Pierre Schoeller’s “The Minister,” Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s smash hit comedy “Intouchables,” Bertrand Bonello’s “Apollonide” (“House of Tolerance”) and Aki Kaurismaki’s “Le Havre,” winner of the Louis Delluc prize, which is handed out by French critics.
“The Artist,” produced by Thomas Langmann’s La Petite Reine, was released Stateside in November by the Weinstein Co.
Maiwenn drew helmer kudos for her third feature, “Polisse,” a gritty ensemble drama centering on cops working in a child protection unit, beating Hazanavicius, Bonello and Kaurismaki.
Omar Sy, who stars opposite Francois Cluzet in “Intouchables,” drew the actor nod, beating “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin, among other strong contenders.
Before his breakthrough in “Intouchables,” Sy was best known in France as a comic on “SAV,” a daily comedy show on Canal Plus. Sy also starred in Nakache and Toledano’s previous two films, “Those Happy Days” and “So Happy Together.”
“Intouchables,” Gaul’s second biggest local-lingo B.O. hit and third biggest hit ever, was produced by Quad Films and co-produced by Gaumont. The Weinstein Co. acquired the film for multiple territories, taking U.S. distribution and remake rights.
Denis Menochet nabbed newcomer for his part in family dramedy “Les Adoptes,” the directorial debut of thesp Melanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”); “Apollonide” thesps Alice Barnole, Adele Haenel and Celine Sallette shared the female newcomer prize.
Quebec helmer Denis Villeneuve’s heart-wrenching “Incendies,” based on a play by Wajdi Mouawad, won for foreign film in the French language. A critical success, “Incendies” repped Canada in last year’s foreign-language Oscar race.
Taking place during Unifrance’s Rendez-Vous mini-market, the Lumieres are voted on by Paris-based foreign correspondents.