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Paul Verhoeven’s Elle scoops three awards from the Academie des Lumières
The French international press film awards, Les prix Lumières, are a tribute to the French film industry, and to the international reach of cinema. One film, Elle, starring Isabelle Huppert who won the Lumières Best Actress, has already shone at the Golden Globes US film critics award, and is competing for best foreign film award at the Oscars in March in Hollywood.
Monday’s ceremony in Paris was a glowing event. Isabelle Huppert on stage as the film from Dutch director Paul Verhoeven won best French film actress in the best French film by the best director of French film.
Verhoeven appeared on stage and screen simultaneously from Los Angeles to express his thanks and signed off with “I hope I’ll make my next film in France.”
‘Elle’ first screened in competition at Cannes in 2016. The crew and cast’s work, along with Verhoeven’s was lauded, but the plot (adapted by David Birke from a novel by Philippe Djian) where rape meets sexual fantasy in a bourgeois milieu, was a risk. Huppert acts boldly and appears to be very much at ease in her central role as a controlling yet troubled and disturbing character.
Two of French film’s XL-generation were acknowledged for their contributions. Director Bertrand Tavernier won the best documentary for his more than three-hour-long homage to French cinema, Voyage à Travers le Cinéma Français, a landmark, historical screen document. Actor Jean-Pierre Léaud won best actor for his portrayal of a largely immobile and dying Louis XIVth in Spanish director Albert Serra’s The Death of Louis XIVth.
Serra’s film also won the award for Jonathan Ricquebourg’s camera work. In a confined space, Louis XIV’s bedroom, Ricquebourg’s tones, his play on light and shade, embalm the ailing French king in deep Spanish baroque.
Among the other bright lights at the 22nd awards ceremony were the first-feature director of Divines Houda Benyamina, and most promising actresses in her film Oulaya Amamra and Déborah Lukumena.
One of the two guests of honour this year is, like Huppert is one of France’s best-known actresses abroad, Marion Cotillard.
Star of several films outside of France with Justin Kurzel, Michael Mann,Christopher Nolan, and in even more in France including Olivier Dahan's la Môme which won her best Oscar for a foreign actress, Cotillard was nominated for a Lumières best actress in Nicole Garcia’s Mal de Pierres, From the Land of the Moon, also a Cannes 2016 première.
The Académie des Lumières' guests of honour are chosen among the greatest ambassadors of French cinema. Hardly a surprise then that Thierry Frémaux, the executive director of the Cannes Film Festival for 17 years, was awarded with one of the French foreign press bronze medals.
He drew laughter from the audience when he pointed out, with a wry smile, that the award society’s “Lumières” in the plural, fortunately prevents a legal clash as the Lumière Festival of classic film, founded by Frémaux and Betrand Tavernier in Lyon, is named after the Lyonnais film-pioneer brothers, Auguste and Louis. Frémaux's documentary called Lumière: L'aventure commençe, Lumière: The adventure begins
Both Les Lumières and Les Lumière hold a specially important place in the history of France and the world.
The complete list of winners of the 22nd Lumière Academy International Press Awards 2017:
- Best Film - Elle
- Best Director – Paul Verhoeven (Elle)
- Best Actress – Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
- Best Actor – Jean-Pierre-Léaud (The Death of Louis XIVth)
- Best Screenplay – Céline Sciamma (Ma Vie de Courgette)
- Best Camera – Jonathan Ricquebourg (The Death of Louis XIVth)
- Best New Actor – Damien Bonnard (Staying Vertical)
- Best New Actress – Oulaya Amamra and Déborah Lukumenu (Divines)
- Best First Film – Houda Benyamina (Divines)
- Best French-language Film – Hedi (Mohamed Ben Attia)
- Best Animation Film – Ma Vie de Courgette (Claude Barras)
- Best Documentary – A Voyage Through French Cinema
- Best Original Film Score – Ibrahim Maalouf (Dans la Forêt de Sibérie)