Mauritanian 'Timbuktu' sweeps Cesar Awards; Sean Penn gets honorary award

NEW DELHI: Abderrahmane Sissako’s foreign-language Oscar-nominated Timbuktu swept the 40th Cesar Awards in France with seven awards including the Best film and director prizes.

The film also received awards for original screenplay (Abderrahmane Sissako, Kessen Tall), cinematography (Sofian el Fani), editing (Nadia Ben Rachid), sound (Philippe Welsh, Roman Dymn, and Thierry Delor), and music (Amin Bouhafa).

Timbuktu was curiously overlooked at Cannes where it world premiered in competition. Although the movie is considered to be the first Mauritanian film in the running for a foreign-language Oscar, it was financed in France, produced at Sylvie Pialat’s Paris-based Les Films du Worso and distributed/sold by Jean-Labadie’s Le Pacte.

Kristen Stewart was chosen supporting actress for her performance as Juliette Binoche’s assistant in Clouds of Sils Maria, becoming the first American actress to win a Cesar trophy.

Xavier Dolan’s French-Canadian Mommy won best foreign film and the best actor and actress wins went to Comedie Francaise-trained Pierre Niney for his performance in Jalil Lespert’s film on the famed French designer Yves Saint Laurent and Adele Haenel for her role in Love at First Fight.

Another picture on the designer by Bertrand Bonello, Saint Laurent, won best costumes award for Anais Romand.

Love at First Fight, an unusual romantic comedy that takes place in an Army boot camp, also won best directorial debut for Cailley and male newcomer for Kevin Azais. The film also marks the first film of its producer, Pierre Guyard at Nord-Ouest. The film has been sold to all major territories and will be distributed in the United States by Strand Releasing.

Up-and-coming thespian Reda Kateb, who previously starred in Zero Dark Thirty and Lost River, won best supporting actor for his performance as an intern in a Paris hospital in Hippocrate.

Eric Lartigau’s dramedy blockbuster La Famille Belier, the most mainstream contender of this year’s race, earned its star Louane Emera a best newcomer award. La Famille Belier is still playing in theaters and has so far totaled more than 6 million admissions.

Well-known American actor and director Sean Penn was presented an honorary Cesar award.

Other awards were: Adapted Screenplay - Cyril Gely, Volker Schlondorff, Diplomacy; Set Decoration - Thierry Flamand for ‘The Beauty and the Beast’; Animated Film - Minuscule and Documentary - Salt of the Earth, Wim Wenders.

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