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Cesar Awards: Philippe Faucon’s Drama ‘Fatima’ Wins Best Film

PARIS — Underscoring the diversity of this year’s Cesar lineup, Philippe Faucon’s “Fatima,” a tale of a Moroccan-born single mother, won best film, supporting actress and adapted screenplay at the 41st Cesar Awards ceremony that took place Friday night at the Chatelet Theater in Paris.

Although the big win for “Fatima” was unexpected, it resonates strongly with the current divide in France and sheds light on the second and third generations of North African immigrants in France. The country was hit by its deadliest ever terror attack in November and has seen the Far Right party gaining grounds in the run-up to the 2017 presidential election. The French academy’s show of love for “Fatima” reflects the local industry’s desire to fight the rising xenophobia and extremism through movies.

A contemporary social drama loosely based on Fatima Elayoubi’s poems “Priere a la lune” (“Prayer to the Moon”), “Fatima” turns on a single mother who emigrated from Morocco and faces cultural challenges as well as prejudice in France, where she raises her two daughters and works as a maid to make ends meet. Pic was just acquired by Kino Lorber for U.S. distribution. “Fatima” won the prestigious Louis Delluc prize, an award given by film critics, in December and the Lumiere nod (French equivalent to the Golden Globes) for best script earlier this month.

Faucon previously directed “La desintegration,” one of the first and only movies dealing with the indoctrination and radicalization of French youths from underprivileged backgrounds who drift into terrorism.

Zita Hanrot won best female newcomer for her perf in “Fatima” while the film’s protagonist, Soria Zeroua, had scored a nomination but lost to Catherine Frot for her role in Xavier Giannoli’s “Margerite.”

Arnaud Desplechin’s “My Golden Years,” Xavier Giannoli’s “Marguerite” and Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s foreign-language Oscar nominee “Mustang” were the frontrunners for the best film nod.

“Mustang” won four nods including first film, original screenplay, music and editing. “My Golden Years” won best director. Both “My Golden Years” and “Margerite” were nominated for 11 nods each. After winning best actor at Cannes, Vincent Lindon won the best Cesar nod for his performance in Stephane Brize’s social drama “The Measure of a Man.”

The Cesar Awards lineup has been celebrated for turning the spotlight on diversity with a large number of female and ethnic minorities among the nominees. In contrast with the Oscars, where Ergüven is the only female director nominated for a narrative feature, the Cesar’s best directors contenders were equally split between men and women with Emmanuelle Bercot (“Standing Tall”), Maiwenn (“Mon Roi”) and Ergüven vying for this kudo.

Michael Douglas, who was on hand to receive the honorary Cesar award, told journos in the press room was he was “impressed by the number of women among the Cesar winners in the directing, editing, screenwriting categories at a time where (the Oscars) are having issues because of the lack of women (nominated).” After receiving his award from the hands of Claude Lelouch, Douglas made a long speech in French and paid tribute to French cinema’s iconic actors and directors, citing Louis Malle, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Francois Truffaut, Alain Delon, Jeanne Moreau and Jean-Paul Belmondo. “Take this speech as an audition and think of me,” quipped Douglas.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman” won best foreign-language film, beating Laszlo Nemes’ “Son of Saul,” one of the foreign-language Oscar contenders.

Although Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or winning “Dheepan” also competed in most categories, it didn’t win any award.

Douglas was seen laughing during the introduction of French comedian Florence Floresti, who emceed the ceremony and managed to wrap up the show in three hours. Floresti made a few jokes about Douglas triggering wild passion and murderous instincts in woman through movies such as “Basic Instincts” and “Dangerous Liaisons.”

Security was been massively ramped up with police agents circling the entire neighborhood and doing body searches on guests.

Rod Paradot, who stars alongside Catherine Deneuve in Cannes-opening drama “Standing Tall” (“La tete haute”), won best male newcomer and delivered one of the most moving speeches of the evening.

Last year, Abderrahmane Sissako’s Mali-set “Timbuktu” stole the show, winning seven Cesar nods. The movie was also nominated for a foreign-language Oscar but lost to “Ida.”

Pics competing for the foreign-language Cesar were Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu’s “Birdman,” Laszlo Nemes’ Oscar-nominated “The Son of Saul,” Nanni Moretti’s “Mia Madre,” Jafar Panahi’s “Taxi Teheran,” Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” Jaco Van Dormael’s “The Brand New Testament” and Guillaume and Stephane Malandrin’s “Je suis mort mais j’ai des amis.”

The Cesar winners are:

Best Film:

“Dheepan,” produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Grégoire Sorlat, directed by Jacques Audiard
“Fatima,” produced by Yasmina Nina-Faucon, Philippe Faucon, directed by Philippe Faucon –WINNER
“The Measure Of A Man,” produced by Christophe Rossignon, Philip Boëffard, directed by Stéphane Brizé
“Marguerite,” produced by Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonier, directed by Xavier Giannoli
“Mon Roi,” produced by Yvain Attal, directed by Maïwenn
“Mustang,” produced by Charles Gillibert, directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven
“Standing Tall,” produced by François Kraus, Denis Pineau-Valencienne, directed by Emmanuelle Bercot
“My Golden Years,” produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Grégoire Sorlat, directed by Arnaud Desplechin

Best Director:

Jacques Audiard, “Dheepan”
Maïwenn, “Mon Roi”
Stéphane Brizé,”The Measure Of A Man”
Xavier Giannoli, “Marguerite”
Deniz Gamze Ergüven, “Mustang”
Emmanuelle Bercot, “Standing Tall”
Arnaud Desplechin, “Golden Years” – WINNER

Best Actress:

Loubna Abidar, “Much Loved”
Emmanuelle Bercot, “Mon Roi”
Cécile de France, “Summertime”
Catherine Deneuve, “Standing Tall”
Catherine Frot, “Marguerite” – WINNER
Isabelle Huppert, “Valley of Love”
Soria Zeroua, “Fatima”

Best Actor:

Jean-Pierre Bacri, “The Very Private Life of Mister Sim”
Vincent Cassel, “Mon Roi”
François Damiens, “The Cowboys”
Gérard Depardieu, “Valley Of Love”
Anthonythasan Jesuthasan, “Dheepan”
Vincent Lindon, “The Measure Of A Man” – WINNER
Fabrice Luchini, “Courted”

Breakout Actress:

Camille Cotin, “Connasse, Princesse des coeurs”
Sara Giraudeau, “Les Bêtises”
Zita Hanrot, “Fatima” – WINNER
Diane Rouxel, “Standing Tall”
Lou Roy Lecollinet, “My Golden Years”

Breakout Actor:

Swann Arlaud, “The Anarchists”
Quentin Dolmaire, “Golden Years”
Félix Moati, “All About Them”
Finnegan Oldfield, “The Cowboys”
Rod Paradot, “Standing Tall” – WINNER

Best Supporting Actress:

Sara Forrester, “Standing Tall”
Agnès Jaoui, “The Sweet Escape”
Sidse Babett Knudsen, “Courted” – WINNER
Noémie Lvovsky, “Summertime”
Karine Viard, “Families”

Best Supporting Actor:

Michel Fau, “Marguerite”
Louis Garrel, “Mon Roi”
Benoît Magimel, “Standing Tall” – WINNER
André Marcon, “Marguerite”
Vincent Rottiers, “Dheepan”

Best First Film:

“L’affaire SK1,” Frédéric Tellier
“The Cowboys, ” Thomas Bidegain
“Mustang,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven – WINNER
“The Wakhan Front,” Clément Cogitore
“All Three of Us,” Kheiron

Best Cinematography:

Eponine Monmenceau, “Dheepan”
Glynn Speeckaert, “Marguerite”
David Chizallet, “Mustang”
Irina Lubtchansky, “My Golden Years”
Christophe Offenstein, “Valley of Love” – WINNER

Best Adapted Screenplay:

David Oelhoffen, Frédéric Tellier, “SK1”
Samuel Benchetrit, “Asphalte”
Vincent Garenq, Stéphane Cabrel, “The Clearstream Affair”
Philippe Faucon, “Fatima” – WINNER
Hélène Zimmer, Benoit Jacquot, “Diary of a chambermaid”

Best Original Screenplay:

Noé Debré, Thomas Bidegain, Jacques Audiard, “Dheepan”
Xavier Giannoli, “Marguerite”
Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Alice Winocour, “Mustang” – WINNER
Emmanuelle Bercot, Marcia Romano, “Standing Tall”
Arnaud Desplechin, Julie Peyr, “My Golden Years”

Best animated feature:

“Adama,” Simon Rouby
“Avril et le monde truqué,” Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci
“The Little Prince,” Mark Osborne – WINNER

Best Costumes:

Anaïs Romand, “Diary of a Chambermaid”
Pierre-Jean Larroque, “Marguerite” – WINNER
Selin Sözen, “Mustang”
Catherine Leterrier, “L’odeur de la Mandarine”
Nathalie Raoul, “My Golden Years”

Best Production Design:

Michel Barthélémy, “Dheepan”
Katia Wyszkop, “Diary of a Chambermaid”
Martin Kurel, “Marguerite” – WINNER
Jean Rabasse, “L’Odeur de la Mandarine”
Toma Baqueni, “My Golden Years”

Best Editing:

Juliette Welfling, “Dheepan”
Cyril Nakache, “Marguerite”
Simon Jacquet, “Mon Roi”
Mathilde Van De Moortel, “Mustang” – WINNER
Laurence Briaud, “My Golden Years”

Best Sound:

Daniel Sorbino, Valérie Deloof, Cyril Holtz, “Dheepan”
François Musy, Gabriel Hafner, “Marguerite” – WINNER
Nicolas Provost, Agnès Ravez, Emmanuel Croset, “Mon Roi”
Ibrahim Gök, Damien Guillaume, Olivier Goinard, “Mustang”
Nicolas Cantin, Sylvain Malbrant, Stéphane Tiébaut, “My Golden Years”

Best Music:

Raphaël for “The Cowboys”
Ennio Morricone for “Darling Buds of May”
Stephen Warbeck for “Mon Roi”
Warren Ellis for “Mustang” – WINNER
Grégoire Hetzel for “My Golden Years”

Best Foreign Film:

“Birdman,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – WINNER
“Son of Saul,” Laszlo Nemes
“Mia Madre,” Nanni Moretti
“I’m Dead But I Have Friends,” Guillaume Malandrin, Stéphane Malandrin
“Taxi Tehran,” Jafar Panahi
“The Brand New Testament,” Jaco Van Dormael]
“Youth,” Paolo Sorrentino

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