Olivier Assayas’ “Sils Maria” won the Louis Delluc prize, a prestigious film kudo which is voted on by French film critics and kicks off Gaul’s awards season.

Headed by Gilles Jacob, Cannes film festival’s former president, the Louis Delluc jury chose “Sils Maria” over Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu,” Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent,” Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language,” Claus Drexel’s “Au bord du monde,” Pascal Ferran’s “Bird People,” Benoit Jacquot’s “Three Hearts” and Robin Campillon’s “Eastern boys.”

A multi-layered character study, “Sils Maria,” which is repped by MK2 and world premiered in competition at Cannes to warm reviews, stars Juliette Binoche as a middle-aged actress facing insecurities. Kristen Stewart toplines as Binoche’s young assistant.

The female-driven pic was produced by Charles Gillibert’s CG Cinema. A former top exec at MK2, Gillibert launched CG Cinema over two years ago and his recent credits include Mia Hansen-Love’s Toronto-preeming “Eden.”

Meanwhile, the Louis Delluc prize for the best directorial debut was awarded to Thomas Cailley’s “Love at First Fight.”

Sold by Bac Films, the romantic comedy world-premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight and won four prizes. It stars up-and-coming actress Adele Haenel as a headstrong tomboy who’s obsessed with becoming a paratrooper, and Kevin Azais as a young man who falls in love with her and decides to follow her on a two-week army boot camp.

“Love at First Fight” beat out “Party Girl” by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis, as well as Virgil Vernier’s “Merculiales,” Mati Diop’s “Mille Soleils,” Gilles Deroo and Marianne Pistone’s “Mouton” and Guillaume Brac’s “Tonnerre.”

Last year’s Louis Delluc prize was awarded to Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue is the Warmest Color.”