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Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors.

Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated short, tells the story of a boy named Julien (Thomas Gioria), who is forced by a court ruling to split his time between his mother (Drucker) and estranged father (Denis Ménochet), whom he regards as a violent monster, amid his parents’ bitter divorce. “Custody” world-premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival, where it won two awards, and went on to play at Toronto in the competitive Platform section.

In her speech, Drucker paid homage to all the brave women who have inspired her and also dedicated the award to women who are suffering from domestic abuse and desperately need help.

Jacques Audiard won best director for “Sisters Brothers,” a western-style drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Audiard previously won best director at the Venice Film Festival. The movie also won three prizes at the Lumieres Awards.

Jean-Bernard Marlin’s “Shéhérazade,” which world-premiered at Cannes’s Critics Week, was the surprise winner of this year’s Cesar Awards. The film won best first film and earned its cast best male and female newcomers for Kenza Fortas and Dylan Robert, both non-professionals. “Shéhérazade” tells the story of Zachary, a 17-year-old who gets out of jail and faces his mother’s rejection. Zachary ventures into the criminal underworld of Marseille where he meets Shéhérazade, a teenage prostitute.

Andrea Bescond’s feature debut “Little Tickles” won best actress for veteran thesp Karin Viard and adapted screenplay for Bescond and Eric Metayer. Based on Bescond’s autobiographical play, “Little Tickles” is about a funny, intense, and wild young woman who comes to terms with the abuse she suffered as a child through dancing.

The best actor prize was handed out to Alex Lutz, who stars in his second feature “Guy,” which is about a man who discovers he is the son of an on-the-road French crooner.

Nominated for 10 Cesar Awards, Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim” won the best supporting actor prize for Philippe Katerine.

Kristin Scott Thomas, who presided over this year’s Cesar ceremony, presented Robert Redford with the honorary Cesar Award and paid homage to his legacy as an activist, filmmaker, and actor.

Redford, who attended the ceremony with his wife, was greeted on stage with a long standing ovation. In his speech, Redford spoke about his love for France and said he first came to Paris when he was 18 and penniless, and spent time drawing sketches of people, trying to figure out what was going through their minds. He then reminisced about a trip he took to Cannes. As he slept by the beach just above a Croisette palace, he could hear people celebrating and laughing. When he returned to Cannes 17 years later, he returned to the same palace and contemplated with emotion the beach where he had slept. Hailed as an icon in France, the legendary American actor and director received France’s elite Legion of Honour in 2010.

The list of Cesar winners:

Best Film

“Memoir of War,” Emmanuel Finkiel
“The Trouble With You,” Pierre Salvadori
“The Sisters Brothers,” Jacques Audiard
“Sink or Swim,” Gilles Lellouche
“Guy,” Alex Lutz
“Custody,” Xavier Legrand
“In Safe Hands,” Jeanne Herry

Best Director

Emmanuel Finkiel, “Memoir of War”
Pierre Salvadori, “The Trouble With You”
Jacques Audiard, “The Sisters Brothers”
Gilles Lellouche, “Sink or Swim”
Alex Lutz, “Guy”
Xavier Legrand, “Custody”
Jeanne Harry, “In Safe Hands”

Best Foreign Film

“Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonaugh
“Capernaum,” Nadine Labaki
“Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski
“Girl,” Lukas Dhont
“Hannah,” Andrea Pallaoro
“Our Struggles,” Guillaume Senez
“Shoplifters,” Hirokazu Kore-Eda

Best Actress

Elodie Bouchez, “In Safe Hands”
Cecile de France, “Mademoiselle de Joncquieres”
Lea Drucker, “Custody”
Virginie Efira, “An Impossible Love”
Adele Haenel, “The Trouble With You”
Sandrine Kiberlain, “In Safe Hands”
Melanie Thierry, “Memoir of War”

Best Actor

Edouard Baer, “Mademoiselle de Joncquieres”
Romain Duris, “Our Struggles”
Vincent Lacoste, “Amanda”
Gilles Lellouche, “In Safe Hands”
Alex Lutz, “Guy”
Pio Marmai, “The Trouble With You”
Denis Menochet, “Custody”

Best Supporting Actress

Isabelle Adjani, “The World Is Yours”
Leila Bekhti, “Sink or Swim”
Virginie Efira, Sink or Swim
Audrey Tautou, “The Trouble With You”
Karin Viard, “Little Tickles”

Best Supporting Actor

Jean-Hugues Anglade, “Sink or Swim”
Damien Bonnard, “The Trouble With You”
Clovis Cornillac, “Little Tickles”
Philippe Katerine, “Sink or Swim”
Denis Podalydes, “Sorry Angel”

Best Female Newcomer

Ophelie Bau, “Mektoub My Love”
Galatea Bellugi, “The Apparition”
Jehnny Beth, “An Impossible Love”
Lily-Rose Depp, “A Faithful Man”
Kenza Fortas, “Sheherazade”

Best Male Newcomer

Anthony Bajon, “The Prayer”
Thomas Gioria, “Custody”
William Lebghil, “The Freshmen”
Karim Leklou, “The World Is Yours”
Dylan Robert, “Sheherazade”

Best First Film

“L’Amour Flou,” Romaine Bohringer
“Little Tickles,” Andrea Bescond, Eric Metayer
“Custody,” Xavier Legrand
“Savage,” Camille Vidal-Naquet
“Sheherazade,” Jean-Bernard Marlin

Best Original Screenplay

“The Trouble With You,” by Pierre Salvadori, Beoit Graffin, Benjamin Charbit
“Sink or Swim,” by Gilles Lellouche, Ahmed Hamidi, Julien Lambroschini
“Guy,” by Alex Lutz, Anais Deban, Thibault Segouin
“Custody,” by Xavier Legrand
“In Safe Hands,” Jeanne Herry

Best Adapted Screenplay

“Little Tickles,” by Andrea Bescond, Eric Metayer
“Memoir of War,” by Emmanuel Finkiel
“The Sisters Brothers,” by Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain
“Mademoiselle de Joncquieres,” by Emmanuel Mouret
“An Impossible Love,” by Catherine Corsini, Laurette Polmanss

Best Cinematography

Alexis Kavyrchine, “Memoir of War”
Benoit Debie, “The Sisters Brothers”
Laurent Tangy, “Sink or Swim”
Nathalie Durand, “Custody”
Laurent Desmet, “Mademoiselle de Joncquieres”

Best Costume

“Memoir of War,” Anaïs Romano, Sergio Ballo
“The Emperor of Paris,” Pierre-Yves Gayraud
“The Sisters Brothers,” Miléna Canonero
“Mademoiselle de Joncquières,” Jean-Pierre Larroque”
Un peuple et son roi (Anaïs Romand)

Best Decor

“Memoir of War,” Pascal Le Guellec”
“The Emperor of War,” Emile Ghigo
“The Sisters Brothers,” Michel Barthélémy
Mademoiselle de Joncquières, David Faivre
Un peuple et son roi, Thierry François

Best Editing

“Little Tickles,” Valérie Deseine
“En liberté!” Isabelle Devinck
“The Sisters Brothers,” Juliette Welfung
“Sink or Swim,” Simon Jacquet
“Custody,” Yorgos Lamprinos

Best Animated Film

“Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion,” Alexandre Astier and Louis Clichy
“Dilili in Paris,” Michel Ocelot
“Pachamama,” Juan Antin

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