“Papicha” filmmaker Mounia Meddour was awarded the 2020 Academy Gold Fellowship Award for Women from the AMPAS during a luncheon hosted by French actress Juliette Binoche in Paris.
The luncheon was part of a two-day event jointly organized by the French film promotion org UniFrance and the AMPAS to celebrate the achievements of women in the French movie industry. Maimouna Doucouré, whose feature debut “Cuties” earned her a best director nod at Sundance, won the inaugural Academy Gold Fellowship Award for Women last year.
Binoche, whose upcoming film “The Good Wife” will be released in France next Wednesday, delivered a keynote speech at the luncheon addressing the condition of women in our contemporary world.
“Women have been hidden, are still hidden, some are under veils, some have been locked down, reduced to a state of servitude and even slavery, and in other societies were they seem more free, women are sometimes placed to the second rank… Today, we are searching for other values, new values, beyond the notion of good and bad,” said Binoche.
“How many times have we objectified what surrounds us? The earth, plants, animals. How many times have objectified bodies? Women, but also men… Everything is falling apart, yes, but not life. May we be guided by intelligence, wisdom, generosity and especially by our heart,” added the actress.
Meddour, whose film “Papicha” world premiered in competition at Cannes and went on to scoop the Humanitarian Award from the International Press Academy and two Cesar Awards (including best first film and actress), said that she “started developing her film seven years ago… to show the battle that these women waged while the civil war was raging in Algeria.”
Set in Algiers in the 1990s, “Papicha” follows rebellious young women who refuse to bow down to fundamentalism and reject the new bans imposed by the radical Islamists as the women plan to put on a fashion show.
“I hope this film will open doors for other women who feel free to tell their stories. We often say that behind each man there is a woman, but behind women there are also men. In my case, the man behind me is my dad. A father who was a filmmaker and gave me his passion, courage, but also his determination to tell his stories… I think that today, hand-in-hand, men and women, we can build a universal world, a strong, powerful.. world,” said Meddour.
Hudson, who speaks fluent French, said that the program launched one year ago with the support of Swarovski has already handed out grants to five directors from four different countries in order to help them pursue their film projects.
Hudson pointed the Academy Awards honoured 64 women from 21 countries this year, and said the number of women nominated has been growing each year, from 43 women in 2017, to 51 in 2018, 60 in 2019 and 67 in 2020.
UniFrance’s managing director Daniela Elstner, meanwhile, said that “out of the more than 42 million admissions sold by French films last year, many came from films directed by women which traveled widely.”
“Some of these women is among us and is being honoured,” said Elstner, referring to Meddour, whose movie was sold worldwide by Jour2Fete, including in the U.S. to Distrib Films.