Roman Polanski Wins Best Director, Best Screenplay at France's Lumiere Awards
PARIS -- Gods, Men and Roman Polanski were the big winners Friday night at the 16th annual Lumiere Awards, France's version of the Golden Globes.
Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods and Men was named best film of the year. Polanski earned the title of best director for The Ghost Writer, which also earned the veteran helmer a best screenplay award.
Kristin Scott Thomas presented Polanski with an honorary Golden Panther as the Lumieres Academy honored his more than 50-year career with an homage.
Scott Thomas stole the spotlight to receive the best actress prize for her role in Gilles Pacquet-Brenner's Sarah's Key, an adaptation of the best-selling novel.
Michael Lonsdale was named best actor for his tear-jerking role in Of Gods and Men. The film about a group of French trappist monks threatened by terrorists in Algeria is France's bid for a Foreign Language Oscar this year and premiered at the 2010 Festival de Cannes where it won the coveted Grand Prize.
The film has been a surprising art house hit at the Gallic box office and will be released stateside in February.
French actor Francois Berleand presided over the ceremony that took place at Paris' City Hall the Hotel de Ville with Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe making a special appearance to inaugurate the swank evening.
Lumieres Academy president Christian Rioux also joined guests in paying respects to legendary filmmaker Claude Chabrol and Alain Corneau who passed away last year.
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's A Screaming Man was named best Francophone title outside of France and TV5Monde's big prize went to Olivier Masset-Depasse's immigration drama Illegal.
Antonin Chalon won the most promising actor award for his breakout role in Zabou Breitman's No et Moi and Yahima Torres was named most promising actress for Abdellatif Kechiche's Venus Noire.
The Lumiere Awards are voted upon by foreign press correspondents based in Paris and mark the start of awards season in the country. This year's ceremony streamed live on the Lumieres Academy website.