Berri awarded Toscan du Plantier prize

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PARIS -- Claude Berri was feted Monday night as the prolific writer-director-producer took the first annual Daniel Toscan du Plantier Prize for best French producer of the year, France's Academy of Film Arts and Sciences said Tuesday.

Actress Isabelle Huppert handed the award to Berri at a dinner at Paris' Grand Hotel, which brought together the creme-de-la-creme of Gallic producers.

Jeanne Moreau, Roman Polanski, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Costa Gavras along with last year's Cesar winners Guillaume Canet, Francois Cluzet and Pascal Ferran were also present for the occasion.

The jury, composed of both select Academy members and last year's 25 Cesar winners, chose from 136 producers chosen as finalists, including major industry players "La Vie en Rose" producer Alain Goldman, MK2's father-son team Marin and Nathanael Karmitz and Mandarin Cinema's brothers Eric and Nicolas Altmayer.

"It's in homage to the memory of one of the personalities that marked the history of the film industry that the Academy of Film Arts and Sciences partnered with Fortis to hand out the Daniel Toscan du Plantier Prize each year to a film producer who has planted his or her footprint in the past year in movies," the Academy said.

Berri's Pathe-Renn produced 2007 films "Hunting and Gathering" which he also directed, in addition to award season favorite Abdellatif Kechiche's "The Secret of the Grain."

The Berri-produced comedy "Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis" will hit Gallic theaters Feb. 27.
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