×

Ladj Ly’s Cannes Prize-Winner ‘Les Miserables’ Is France’s Oscar Submission

Ladj Ly’s politically charged drama “Les Miserables,” which won the Jury Prize at Cannes, has been chosen by France’s Oscar committee to enter the international feature film race.

In one of the most competitive years for French movies, “Les Miserables” beat out Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” the 18th-century-set romance which won best screenplay at Cannes. Also falling short was Alice Winocour’s “Proxima,” which opened at Toronto in the competitive Platform section and received an honorable mention. The film stars Eva Green as an astronaut preparing for a mission that will separate her from her young daughter.

“Les Miserables,” which was bought by Amazon for the U.S., earned stellar reviews at Cannes, including in Variety, whose review said the film “simmers with urgent anger over police brutality” and compared Ly’s work to that of Spike Lee.

The movie just had its North American premiere at Toronto and will next play on the opening night of Colcoa, the French film festival in Los Angeles, on Sept. 23.

“Les Miserables” is inspired by the 2005 French riots, a three-week period of civil unrest characterized by violence, looting and car burnings. The film examines the tensions between neighborhood residents and police that helped inflame the rioting. It centers on Stéphane (Damien Bonnard), who has recently joined the anti-crime brigade in Montfermeil, and his two partners (Alexis Manenti and Djibril Zonga). The men find themselves overrun during the course of an arrest.

Sold around the world by Wild Bunch, “Les Miserables” is Ly’s feature debut and is based on his 2017 award-winning short film by the same name. The helmer, has a background in documentary filmmaking, is a native of Montfermeil, a suburb of France best known as the location of Thénardiers’ inn in Victor Hugo’s classic novel “Les Misérables.”

Giordano Gederlini and Alexis Manenti co-wrote the film alongside Ly, with Toufik Ayadi and Christophe Barral of SRAB films producing.

France’s Oscar committee this year comprised producers Rosalie Varda and Jean Bréhat, sales agents Agathe Valentin and Muriel Sauzay, directors Danièle Thompson and Pierre Salvadori, Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux, Unifrance president Serge Toubiana, and Cesar Awards president Alain Terzian.

Winner of Berlin’s Silver Bear Award, Francois Ozon’s timely sex abuse drama “By The Grace of God” was surprisingly left out by France’s Oscar committee which opted to shortlist “Proxima” instead. “By The Grace of God” earned near-unanimous stellar reviews in Berlin and was acquired by Music Box which will do a limited release in the U.S. starting in Oct. 18.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

  • Minyan

    'Minyan': Film Review

    Best known for the unexpectedly soul-shattering San Francisco suicide doc “The Bridge,” indie filmmaker Eric Steel came out and came of age in 1980s New York at a moment just before AIDS devastated the city’s gay community. Such timing must have been surreal, to assume something so liberating about one’s own identity, only to watch [...]

  • Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches

    Film New Roundup: Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches North American Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Queen’s Corgi” finds a home, the Overlook Film Festival is postponed and the California Film Commission adjusts its tax credit rules due to the coronavirus. ACQUISITION Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the animated family comedy feature “The Queen’s Corgi,” and plans to make it available on DVD and to [...]

  • APA Logo

    APA Sets Salary Cuts and Furloughs in Wake of Covid-19 Pandemic

    Following in the steps of several agencies dealing with the coronavirus, APA has informed all offices of upcoming salary cuts along with possible suspensions and furloughs for employees due to the pandemic’s economic effect on the industry. APA board of directors will make the largest financial sacrifice. The move has been made to avoid layoffs [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content