Agnes Varda, Julie Gayet Celebrate Cesar Nominees at French Academy's Annual Luncheon

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Agnes Varda

Adele Haenel, Leila Bekhti and Vincent Lacoste were among the nominees at the annual event on Paris' Champs Elysees.

The French Academy feted its 2019 Cesar Awards nominees Sunday afternoon, with its traditional luncheon at the famed Fouquet's restaurant in Paris.

Stars including Adele Haenel, Leila Bekhti and Vincent Lacoste turned out, after the lunch had been moved a day later than its traditional berth due to the ongoing “yellow vest” protests that are now a Saturday staple on the Champs Elysees. But the city's most famous road was closed to traffic for pre-planned “car-free” day, leaving extra room for the rows of fans to greet the actors.

Melanie Thierry, Virginie Efira, Elodie Bouchez, Sandrine Kiberlain and Julie Gayet were also on hand, alongside guests including Agnes Varda and CanalPlus head Maxime Saada.

Bekhti, who is nominated in the best supporting actress category for Sink or Swim, called the film's 10 nominations “extraordinary.” The film premiered out of competition in Cannes earlier this year. “The idea that this adventure hasn't finished is fabulous, that it continues is marvelous,” she said, joining director Gilles Lellouch at the luncheon. 

And while Bekhti enjoyed celebrating the synchronized swimming comedy, she also reveled in being among the other nominees. “I'm profoundly honored to be nominated next to these actresses,” she said, adding that she was celebrating alongside friend Xavier Legrand, whose Custody is up against Swim in with ten nods, including best film. 

The Trouble With You's star Haenel, already a two-time Cesar winner, said she's eager to work with director Pierre Salvadorii again. “I love his work, and I think we explored a way of acting that makes the movie very different,” she said, adding that there was a lot of improvisation and give-and-take inspiration on set. “It's very focused on rhythm and collaboration. I think it's the movie I've made where the collaboration between actors and the filmmaker was the strongest.”

Memoir of War, Emannuel Finkiel's adaptation of Marguerite Duras' WWII-set autobiography, was France's official Oscar submission. While it didn't make the cut, star Thierry said the “voyage has been magical,” and that it has been an honor for the film to resonate beyond France.

Documentary filmmakers Jean Libon and Yves Hinant were also on hand for the luncheon. Their film So Help Me God won the prize at Saturday night's Magritte Awards in Belgium, and the team jumped on an early morning train from Brussels to make it in time for the Paris event.

The Cesar Awards will be held Feb. 23 at Salle Pleyel in Paris.