'A Prophet' wins nine prizes at César French film awards

Photo: Reuters

Jacques Audiard’s prison drama A Prophet won a total of nine prizes on Saturday night at the César French film awards. It won best film, best director and best actor, despite losing out on the Cannes Palme d’Or last year. Audiard’s critically acclaimed film has already been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category.


Audiard’s bleak and gripping portrayal of life in a French prison follows the illiterate French-Arab convicted criminal Malik El Djebena, played by Tahar Rahim. 

He rises through the ranks after forging alliances with the Corsican mafia. However as his power grows he begins to doubt the Corsican ringleader Luciani, amid an ongoing turf war with a group of Muslim inmates.

In his first major role Rahim won the award for Most Promising Male Newcomer in the 35th César award ceremony at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

The film, released across France in August last year, was received with critical acclaim. Manohla Dargis, from the New York Times described it as a rare film in which the “moral stakes are as insistent and thought through as the aesthetic choices”.

Sandra Hall, from the Sydney Morning Herald described it as a “bracingly cynical antidote to the waftiness of much French cinema”.

While The Guardian’s Philip French called it an “outstanding contribution to a great tradition of prison movies”.

On the internet film rating site Rotten Tomatoes it recorded 95 per cent on its Tomatometer, with 76 reviews giving an average score of 8.1 out of 10.

Audiard, a veteran of more than twenty films, previously described the film as having “no message”, saying that he wanted to create “a nice guy just like you and me, who also kills”. He said he wanted it to “keep away from black and white moralising”.

A Prophet goes up against Ajami, The Milk of Sorrow, The Secret in Their Eyes and The White Ribbon in the 82nd Academy Awards on 7 March.

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