Lumières: French 2021 Oscar entry among annual foreign press award-winners
Films high in emotion and colour nabbed some of the top prizes at the 26th Lumières Foreign Press Awards in Paris on Tuesday night. Adapted to Covid-restrictions, the show went on, in a TV studio with only the technical crew as spectators. Despite the constraints, the artistic talent shone through.
Les choses qu’on dit, les choses qu’on fait starring Camila Jordano and Vincent Macaigne with Emilie Dequenne and Nils Schnieder won the Best Film Lumière Award. Some like to describe director Emmanuel Mouret as France’s answer to Woody Allen.
A far cry from Manhattan and less sharply satirical, Love Affair(s), in English, is a psychological drama of intrigue among contrasted lovers in town and in the countryside. Attractions play hide-and-seek with Daphne and Maxime while they are waiting for Daphne’s partner to show up at his holiday home.
Emilie Dequenne is superbe as the generous wife in this fivesome. Mouret’s film has to be one the most enchantingly shot films which made it into the theatres in France in 2020.
Representing France at the Oscars
Three films were doubly rewarded by the Lumières Foreign Press Film Award Academy, one of them is the French entry for the best foreign film category at this year’s American Academy Awards, the Oscars.
The profound and beautiful Deux (The Two of Us) directed by Italian-born Filippo Meneghetti won the Best 1st Film Lumières Award,and the Best Actress Lumières Award went to lead rôle Martine Chevallier.
The two outstanding actresses Martine Chevallier and Barbara Sukowa combined their experience with Meneghetti’s deep understanding of life, love and societal prejudice.
Cartoonist Aurel won both Best Animation Film for his Josep about a Spanish refugee fleeing Franco’s Spain in the 1930s to France, where Spanish refugees were being thrown into inhumane detention camps and abused. Sílvia Pérez Cruz won the Lumières best Music Award for her lively and romantic score.
François Ozon’s Été 85 (Summer of ’85) won the Best Photography and New Male Talent Awards. Hichame Alaouié is the man behind the camera and the saturated Kodak-colour-image which recreated the heady seaside mid-eighties atmosphere when two teenage boys come of age and fall in and out of love. Félix Lefebvre and Benjamin Voisin are the two youngsters to watch.
Actress, director, screenwriter Maïwenn won Best Director for ADN (DNA) about a young woman, played by Maïwenn (also known for amongst others Poliss) whose Algerian roots start to tug harder when her grandfather dies.
Stéphane Demoustier fashioned some fabulous roles in his whodunnit La Fille au Bracelet (The Girl With a Bracelet), including one for his sister Anaïs Desmoustier, as the perceptive and straight-laced lawyer for the prosecution. It’s based on the Argentinian film Accusada. The pace of this multi-layered courtroom drama is such that it’s hard to miss a nuance and yet, whodunnit ?
Life goes on
The 2021 Best Actor went to Sami Bouajila for his father’s role Un fils (A Son) directed by Mehdi M. Barsaoui, Best New Female Talent went to Noée Abita for her tough rôle as a budding ski champion preyed upon by an unfettered and frustrated coach in Charlène Favier’s highly polished first feature shot, Slalom.
Un pays qui se tient sage (The Monopoly of Violence), a documentary by David Dufresne is a hard-hitting social piece which won the Lumières Documentary Award. He gives voice to many protestors and commentators who have experienced or analysed recent police violence in France.
Kaouther Ben Hania, a Tunisian film maker whose Belle et la Meute (Beauty and the Pack) demonstrates her fast-growing talent and mastery of the art of directing with her L’Homme qui a vendu sa peau, won a co-production award.
This was one of only two films in the Lumières Academy final list for 2021 which had to postpone their releases until 2021. The other is Slalom.
The 26th Lumières ceremony was dedicated to Delegate general of the Academy from 2016-2019 and one of its longest-standing members, José Maria Riba (1951-2020).
This year’s awards were a sign of the determination of the French film industry and cinema theatres in France in 2020 to keep creating and carry on despite the impact of the Covid pandemic.
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