Brotherly Belgian filmmaking duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne will receive this year’s Lumière Award at the upcoming Lumière Festival, which celebrates classic films and cinematic masters each autumn in Lyon, France.
Last year’s award went to Francis Ford Coppola, who joined previous recipients including Jane Fonda, Wong Kar-Wai, Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodóvar, Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino.
This year’s award will be presented during the Lumière Festival, launched by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier and Cannes Festival chief Thierry Fremaux, heads of Lyon’s Institut Lumière.
One of the biggest classic film celebrations in the world, with an audience of 250,000 last year, the Lumière Festival will run Oct. 10-18.
“For us, two directing brothers, this award embodies a special emotion,” the brothers said in a statement released by the festival. “It connects us to the original brotherhood of cinema, with the two brothers who filmed for the first time the bodies and faces of men and women, workers leaving their workshops. More than a century later, we film bodies and faces which are the descendants of those shot by the Lumière brothers and, each time, we try to film them as if it were the first.”
“It will be wonderful to receive this Award in the context of the festival which creates a dialogue like nowhere else between world heritage cinema and audiences of today. Long live the cinema! Long live life!” they finished.
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In recent decades, few filmmakers have been as ever present on the French awards and festival scene. In 1999, the brothers won their first of two Cannes Palme d’Or prizes with “Rosetta.” They then repeated the feat in 2005 with “The Child,” and have several other Cannes wins including best screenplay, three jury prizes and a best director pick at last year’s festival for “Young Ahmed.”
The brothers’ filmography stands out for its realistic portrayal of working-class themes and characters, and for the exceptional performances the filmmakers elicit from their actors. In 2015, Marion Cotillard received an Academy Award nomination for best actress for her work in their film “Two Days, One Night.”
They are also prolific producers, frequently backing as many as six or seven features in a calendar year from promising and established auteurs alike. Recent producer credits include Jacques Audiard’s “The Sisters Brothers,” Pierre Schoeller’s “The Minister” and Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation.”
“It is an immense joy to give this Lumière Award to the Dardenne brothers; it is also self-evident in the era we are experiencing. With passion, with a consistency that recalls Orwell, a tremendous empathy for the lame, eschewing all dictates of fashion or box office sales, the films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne explore the lives of those who suffer, as victims of crises, of globalization, prisoners of religious intolerance, of the ‘misérables’ [Victor] Hugo was inclined towards, resisting in their own way: Violently, awkwardly, tenderly,” said Tavernier, president of the Lumière Institute.
He finished, “The two filmmaker brothers do it brilliantly, with talent, with attention to the moral of things, allowing us to discover prodigious actors and proving to us that what we see, especially if it is with this humanity, counts as much as the vision itself.”