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MADRID — “Polisse,” directed by French actress-turned-helmer Maiwenn, has won the Lumiere Institute’s 8th Jacques Deray Prize, an award created by the Lyon Institute’s director Thierry Fremaux, also Cannes general delegate.

Named after the Gallic director of 1970’s small-time gangster movie “Borsalino,” with Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo, the plaudit is given to films made in France’s long and illustrious “policier” tradition of crime thrillers, cop dramas or film noirs.

One of France’s big 2011 breakouts, gritty ensemble drama “Polisse” puts a modern spin on the genre, focusing on cops working in a Parisian Child Protection Unit.

“Polisse” is produced by Alain Attal at Les Productions du Tresor, the ambitious upscale production house behind Guillaume Canet’s “Tell No One” and “Little White Lies.”

Growing in stature after an upbeat reception in Competition at Cannes, “Polisse” proved the third highest-grossing French movie of 2011, making Euros14.8 million ($19.2 million) after Mars Distribution topper Stephane Celerier decided to launch the film last October on a bold 400-print run, encouraged by previews, targeting both inner-city theaters and mainstream multiplexes.

Past award recipients include many of France’s most sought-after directors working in a genre that is garnering good-to-great B.O. at home, plus international sales and remake deals abroad.

Fred Cavaye, whose “Anything For Her” was remade as Russell Crowe-starrer “The Next Three Days,” won in 2011 for “Point Blank”; “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius took home the 2010 plaudit for James Bond riff “OSS 117: Lost in Rio,” with “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin.