LOCARNO, Switzerland — The Locarno Film Festival’s innovative European Casting Director Award has spawned its first winner(s): France’s Antoinette Boulat and Elsa Pharaon for discovering first-timer Rod Paradot and casting him as the lead in Emmanuelle Bercot’s 2015 Cannes opening film “Standing Tall.”

Paradot’s performance as a turbulent teenager who repeatedly winds up in detention centers has drawn critical praise and scored him prizes as most promising French actor at both France’s Cesar and Lumiere awards this year.

The jury was made up by Swiss director Ursula Meier (“Sister”); prominent German producer Peter Rommel (“Wetlands”); and French actress Clotilde Courau (“In the Shadow of Women”).

Locarno’s new European casting director prize breaks new ground because there are virtually no nods for this key industry category within the global film community. Requests for a casting directors’ Oscar in the U.S. have fallen on deaf ears within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for years, though the Academy in 2013 did establish a Casting Directors branch. The European Film Academy also lacks a casting award within the roster of its EFA Awards.

“We are on a quest to enhance the profession,” says Rome-based casting director Beatrice Kruger, whose credits include Anton Corbijn’s “The American,” which George Clooney produced and starred in, and Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love.”

“It’s a scandal that there is no award for casting directors,” she laments. Kruger is a member of the Academy and of the International Casting Directors Network, which has launched the prize in tandem with Locarno. “This is an important step forward, that we hope will serve as inspiration in Europe and in Hollywood,” Kruger noted.

ICDN which represents casting directors in 24 countries was founded in 2005 within the Berlin Film Festival’s Shooting Stars initiative which promotes young European actors.

These were the seven contenders for the European Casting Director Award: 

Simone Bär (Denmark) for LAND OF MINE by Martin Pieter Zandvliet, 2015, Denmark/Germany

Antoinette Boulat and Elsa Pharaon (France) for STANDING TALL by Emmanuelle Bercot, 2015, France

An Dorthe Braker (Germany) for LABYRINTH OF LIES by Giulio Ricciarelli, 2015, Germany

Amy Rowan (Ireland) for MY NAME IS EMILY by Simon Fitzmaurice, 2015, Ireland/Sweden/Norway

Yngvill Kolset Haga (Norway) for ONE NIGHT IN OSLO by Eirik Svensson, 2014, Norway

Magdalena Szwarcbart (Poland) for THE MIGHTY ANGEL by Wojciech Smarzowski, 2014, Poland

Pauline Hansson (Sweden) for DRIFTERS, by Peter Grönlund, 2015, Sweden