Cedric Jimenez’s action thriller “The Stronghold” won the Cesar Award which was voted on by nearly 2,000 students from French high schools in France, the U.K., Mayotte and Japan.

The Studiocanal film, which was produced by Hugo Sélignac at Chi-Fou-Mi Productions, a Mediawan company, was nominated for seven Cesar Awards, including best film and two actor nods. Both Jimenez and Selignac were honored at the ceremony which was attended by the Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and Veronique Cayla, the president of the Cesar Academy.

Headlined by a French cast comprising Gilles Lellouche, Francois Civil, Karim Leklou, Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”) and Kenza Fortas, “The Stronghold” is inspired by a true story and follows a police brigade in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Marseille.

After world premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, the film was released in French theaters by Studiocanal and became one of 2021’s rare local box office hits, selling more than 2.2 million tickets. “The Stronghold” was also one of the three films shortlisted by France’s Oscar committee, long with Audrey Diwan’s Venice Golden Lion-winning “Happening” and Julia Ducournau’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Titane.” The film is available globally on Netflix.

Following the ceremony, Jimenez participated in a masterclass and answered questions from students who are all in their senior year of high school. The masterclass was also made available to students who took the vote but were not on the ground at the Paris event.

The High School Students prize was launched in 2019. The inaugural prize went to “Hors Normes,” a comedy-drama directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache (“Intouchables”). Toledano is now leading the Cesar Academy along with Cayla, the former boss of Franco-German network Arte.

The Cesar Academy is planning another event with audiences and the team behind “The Stronghold” in the weeks to come at the Grand Rex theater in Paris, with the support of BNP Paribas.

Jimenez is currently editing his next film “November,” a tense action thriller following a secretive police brigade that tracks down the instigators of the 2015 Paris terror attacks. The ensemble cast includes Jean Dujardin, Sandrine Kiberlain and Anais Demoustier.

Next up, Jimenez will direct “Verde,” an epic adventure drama revolving around the kidnapping of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and her campaign manager Clara Rojas, who were held captive in the jungle for seven years.