‘Birdman’ wins Best Foreign Language Film – Cesars honour diversity in ‘Fatima’, ‘Mustang’

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French screenwriter Alice Winocour (left), and French-Turkish director Deniz Gamze Erguven pose with their trophies during a photocall after they won the Best Original Screenplay and Best First Feature Film awards for ‘Mustang’ at the 41st edition of the Cesar Ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on Feb 26. (AFP)
French screenwriter Alice Winocour (left), and French-Turkish director Deniz Gamze Erguven pose with their trophies during a photocall after they won the Best Original Screenplay and Best First Feature Film awards for ‘Mustang’ at the 41st edition of the Cesar Ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on Feb 26. (AFP)

PARIS, Feb 27, (Agencies): France’s top film awards ceremony, the Cesars, celebrated diversity on Friday with honours for films about the struggles of life as an immigrant and forced marriage. The creme de la creme of French showbiz gathered in Paris Friday for the 41st Cesars just two days ahead of its Hollywood equivalent, the Oscars, which have been panned as “too white”. “Mustang”, which is up for a foreign fi lm Oscar on Sunday, scooped three awards including for best fi rst feature fi lm. The film by Franco-Turkish director Deniz Gamze Erguven, tells the story of five sisters in rural Turkey forced into arranged marriages.

Accolade

The best picture accolade went to “Fatima”, a movie about an immigrant Moroccan woman struggling to raise her two teenagers in France and working as a cleaning lady to give them the best life possible. However, with her rudimentary French while her daughters have trouble speaking Arabic, communication is strained, especially with her rebellious younger daughter. The leading role was played by Algerian Soria Zeroual, a real-life cleaning lady who found herself nominated for best actress alongside French cinema greats Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Deneuve.

Michael Douglas became the latest Hollywood star to be honoured with a lifetime achievement award by the Cesars, and delivered his acceptance speech entirely in French. “It is a little like French cuisine, to make a great dish you need excellent ingredients. To make a great fi lm you need a brilliant screenplay, a great director and exceptional actors,” said Douglas. “I have nearly always had the chance to count on these good ingredients.”

The broad sweep of actors and fi lm themes on offer comes in stark contrast to those up for the Oscars, which have been rocked by controversy after no minority actors were nominated for a second year running. Several leading black Hollywood stars such as Spike Lee and Will Smith have vowed to boycott the “lily white” awards, while the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has swept social media.

In France, three women fi lmmakers were nominated for a Cesar — none of them won — while not a single woman got the nod in that category at the Oscars. The best actress gong went to 10- time Cesar nominee Catherine Frot, 59, for her role in “Marguerite” which tells the tale of a diva who wants to be an opera singer and seems oblivious to the fact that she cannot sing. Vincent Lindon, 56, scooped the best actor prize for his role in “Le Loi Du Marche” (The Measure Of A Man) in which he plays an unemployed factory worker faced with humiliating job interviews and useless internships.

Lindon already won best actor for the film during the 2015 Cannes film festival, and won the Cesar accolade after five previous nominations. Oscar-winning “Birdman” by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu scooped a Cesar for best foreign fi lm on Friday. A showbiz satire about the dark side of fame starring Michael Keaton, “Birdman” won four Academy Awards last year including the coveted best picture prize. The film “Le Petit Prince” (The Little Prince), which has scored huge success abroad and is the first feature film adaptation of the novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, won the Cesar award for best animated film.

Winners List

■ Best Film: Fatima, Philippe Faucon

■ Best Director: Arnaud Desplechin, My Golden Days

■ Best Actress: Catherine Frot, Marguerite

■ Best Actor: Vincent Lindon, The Measure of a Man

■ Best Supporting Actress: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Courted

■ Best Supporting Actor: Benoit Magimel, Standing Tall

■ Best New Actress: Zita Hanrot, Fatima

■ Best New Actor: Rod Paradot, Standing Tall

■ Best Original Screenplay: Deniz Gamze Erguven and Alice Winocour, Mustang

■ Best Adapted Screenplay: Philippe Faucon, Fatima

■ Best First Film: Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven

■ Best Cinematography: Christophe Offenstein, Valley of Love

■ Best Editing: Mathilde van de Moortel, Mustang

■ Best Original Music: Warren Ellis, Mustang

■ Best Costumes: Pierre-Jean Larroque, Marguerite

■ Best Set Decoration: Martin Kurel, Marguerite

■ Best Sound: Fancois Musy and Gabriel Hafner, Marguerite

■ Best Animated Feature: The Little Prince, Mark Osborne

■ Best Documentary: Demain, Cyril Dion and Melanie Laurent

■ Best Foreign Film: Birdman, Alejandro G. Inarritu

■ Best Short Film: La Contre Allee, Cecile Durcocq

■ Best Animated Short: Le Repas Dominical, Celine Devaux

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