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UniFrance Forges Ties With AMPAS to Promote Young French Filmmakers

UniFrance, the French film promotion org, joined forces with the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to host events on March 7-8 in Paris which aimed at shining a spotlight on French female directors, producers, talent, artists and technicians.

The events, which were attended by many French students and young filmmakers at the Meurice Hotel in Paris, underscored the Academy’s ambition to increase its presence in Europe where it has many members.

One of the highlights of the two-day program was French-Senegalese writer/director Maïmouna Doucouré (pictured) receiving the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women on March 8, the International Women’s Day. The prize was given as part of the Academy Women’s Initiative which is supported by Swarovski and aims at creating opportunities for female filmmakers to connect, share their stories and celebrate inclusion.

Doucouré is currently finishing her feature debut “Cuties,” whose screenplay already won the Global Filmmaking Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Doucouré’s short film “Maman(s)” screened at more than 150 film festivals and the Jury Prize at Sundance, among a flurry of prizes.

“As we continue to advocate for inclusion, we are honored to bring Academy members and the filmmaking community together to support women in all stages of their careers, especially emerging Academy Gold filmmakers,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “We are grateful that Swarovski supports our commitment to a more inclusive film community.”

UniFrance’s managing director Isabelle Giordano said the org was eager to forge ties with AMPAS in order to promote French cinema, better identify French members of the Academy, expand the presence of France at the Governors Awards, as well as eventually have French films screened in the upcoming Oscars museum. Giordano said it was also important for UniFrance to establish a relationship with the Academy in order to understand the specificities of the rules for the foreign-language Oscar submissions, which stirred some controversy in France this year.

Giordano said the Academy is looking to increase the number of its French members. “The Academy wants more women among voters and more diversity; that’s their wish and that’s a great news,” said the executive, adding that France currently ranks as the third biggest country in terms of Oscars voters, after the U.S. and the U.K.

The other highlights of the two-day program included a pair of female-centric panels hosted as part of the AMPAS’s Action! Women in Film initiative. The first panel showcase French producer Marie-Ange Luciani, whose credits include Robin Campillo’s “BPM (Beats per Minute),” Anne Seibel, the Oscar-nominated production designer of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris;” Anne Le Campion, the sound mixer of films like “The Pianist;” Audrey Ferrara, a vfx supervisor whose recent credits include “The Lion King” and “The Jungle Book;” Tonie Marshall, the director/producer of the Cesar-winning “Venus Beauté;” and Sylvie Landra, the editor of “The Fifth Element” and Roger Avary’s upcoming film “Lucky Day.”

During the roundtable, the women spoke about the start of their careers – some of which are established on both side of the Atlantic — and shared tips on ways to navigate through the changing film industry. The discussion also pointed out to the increasing presence of female decision makers and the emergence of more women in traditionally male-dominated fields such as vfx.

The second panel showcased the Oscar-nominated writer/filmmakers Julie Delpy (“Before Midnight,” “Two Days in Paris”) and Daniele Thompson (“Avenue Montaigne”), as well as France-based British actress Kristin Scott Thomas (“The English Patient”).

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