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Sheherezade triumphs at Angouleme Francophone Film Festival

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Jean-Bernard Marlin, director of Shéhérézade with Jury chair 2018 Karin Viard. His first film won the top prize at the Festival of Francophone Film © Christophe Brachet

One film stood out for the Jury at this year’s Angoulême Francophone Film Festival awards. Shéhérézade won three prizes. The love story is set against a background of dysfunctional family life, delinquency, crime, prostitution and racketeering in the southern French port city of Marseille.


Leading French actress Karin Viard, this year’s jury chair presented the TV5 Monde Diamond award to Jean-Bernard Marlin, director of Shéhérezade.

"This first film is overwhelming. The jury was unanimous about the mature way the film was directed, the excellent casting and acting, about the two marvellous characters, who I believe had never acted before."

The French director’s first feature, whose title bears the name of the heroine, also won the Sacem best Music score award for the compositions by Zebda, and the Francophone student jury prize.

Marlin says his dramatic film set in petty gangland in Marseille about a former delinquent who becomes a pimp, is political because he chose non-professional actors, to play his two main characters.

On his third time upon the stage, he said he was stunned about winning the top award.

"It's my first film. I waited all my life to make this film. The first day of on the shoot, the first take, I was so elated, I thought my heart would burst. Today, I feel just the same. I'm super happy."

The awards are known at the Angouleme Festival as Valois, and the Jury Valois went to the bitingly funny and well-acted refreshing film called Tout ce qu’il me reste de la révolution - Whatever happened to my revolution directed by Judith Davis. The French actress, writer, director also plays the lead role of Angèle, a young woman whose father reveals a family secret which revolutionizes her perspective on life.

Judith Davis said she wanted all the team who worked on the film to share the moment, underlining how special it was," In Angouleme, it's the first time the film has been shown, so it's really the beginning. We hope it will have a long life."

The best actress Valois went to Canadian Milya Corbeil-Gauvreau for her role in Canadian director Luc Picard’s Cross My Heart.

Picard collected the award on behalf of his 15 year-old star saying that she would be "shouting, and laughing and shouting again," after hearing the news about the recognition for a job well done.

Felix Maritaud picked up another award for his moving portrayal of a male prostitute in search of love and absolute freedom in Sauvage known as Wild in English. He had won the most promising actor award at the Critics Week in Cannes this year for the same role.

"People have come up to me in the street and said thank you. It means more than congrats, it comes from within. It makes me grateful and happy."

Best screenplay went to Sofia a first-feature by Moroccan Meryem Benm’Barek, about a family dealing with a teenage pregnancy,and divided by a wealth gap, meaning a power gap.

Mereyem Ben MBarek says the award is like a relief "after overcoming all the difficulties in making the film." Sofia is due to screen in Morocco later this year.

The Angouleme audience award went to L’Amour flou – Crahzy Love directed by Romane Bohringer and Philippe Rebbot who act in the film along with their children, parents and siblings in a mad love story about separated parents.

Bohringer said she was so proud that they had made their own film and that "the audience prize came from people who had laughed and had cried" when they were watching it. "It's unbelievable," she added.

For Rebbot, he felt a sense of pride because, " in these difficult times in 2018, people go the message about love."

Angouleme’s Francophone Film Festival has in the past 11 years selected for its competition and given awards to films which went on to become big hits. The Untouchables was an international success,two other films which went around the world were the Swiss animation movie My Life as Zucchini ,a Moroccan film which was controversial in Morocco, Much Loved, while the French film full of cattle which won the bnieg prize last year, Petit Paysan, The little Farmer,  took the box office by storm in France last year.

The festival manages to squeeze in as many francophone countries as possible in various ways. Singing at the closing ceremony with her fellow musicians, Melissa Laveaux, from Canada with Haitian roots and who sang not in French however, but in Créole.