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French political drama “Alice and the Mayor” has won Cannes Directors’ Fortnight biggest prize this year, the Europa Cinemas Label award, given to the best European film in the section.

Written and directed by France’s Nicolas Parisier, “Alice and the Mayor” his second feature after his debut, political thriller “The Great Game,” marked him out as a director to watch. The new film returns to the corridors of power, starring Fabrice Luchini as the mayor of Lyon, who, having run out of new ideas, drafts a brilliant young philosopher, Alice Heimann (Anaïs Demoustier) to give him some.

An ironic portrait of the disconnect between political theory and the workings of government, “Alice and the Mayor” split the critics at Cannes. In a generally down review, Variety argued that “even policy wonks will have difficulty getting enthusiastic about this overly chatty, ultra-French drama.”

The Europa Cinemas jury thought differently, praising Parisier’s film as “very well-made” and beautifully written, clear, concise and intellectually stimulating without being pretentious.

“It is a timely and very relevant look at the direction of European policies and politics – but never dry or didactic,” the jury added in a written statement.

The Europa Cinemas jury was made up of four member exhibitors:  Monika Inčerytė, from Lithuania’s Kauno kino centras, in Romuva; Denis Lecat at France’s Cinéma Le Relais in Saint Georges de Didonne; Christos Ringas at the Athinea, in Athens; and Jelena Vojvoda, representing the Kino Samobor in Samobor, Croatia.

Given that the Directors’ Fortnight is non-competitive, its awards are adjudicated by its partners. Further prizes will be announced later Thursday for best French-language film (the Sacd Award) and best short (the Illy Prize). That means that this year, in the absence of an Art Cinema Prize, the Europa Cinema Label has the largest geographic reach, even though it leaves out titles from the rest of the world.

Europa Cinemas is a network of Europe-based cinema theaters that make a priority out of screening European movies. They receive financial incentives from Europa Cinemas. Screening a Europa Cinemas Label winning title counts double towards qualifying as a network member – a considerable incentive that guarantees the Directors’ Fortnight winner significant theatrical exposure over the continent.

The Europa Cinemas network is backed by the European Union’s Creative Europe/Media Program, France’s CNC film-TV agency, the Council of Europe’s  Eurimages film fund, and the Institut Français.

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