Cesar Awards: Philippe Faucon's 'Fatima' Crowned Best Film


The Oscar-nominated 'Mustang' took four awards, including best first film for director Deniz Gamze Erguven.

Philippe Faucon’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight entry Fatima took home the best film prize at Friday night’s Cesar Awards in Paris.

The Oscar-nominated Mustang, which had been tipped to win the top honor, took four prizes, including best first film for director Deniz Gamze Erguven and best original screenplay for Erguven and co-writer Alice Winocour.

The awards were much more evenly distributed than last year’s Timbuktu sweep, with Mustang taking four overall, immigrant drama Fatima and opera dramedy Marguerite earning three each and Standing Tall nabbing two.

Fatima had previously won the Louis Delluc critics’ prize in December, but Mustang’s Oscar nomination was expected to propel the film ahead of the Cesar field.

Vincent Lindon took home the best actor prize for The Measure of a Man, for which he also won the same honor at Cannes in May, while Catherine Frot was named best actress for Marguerite. Both took the acting prizes at the Lumiere Awards last month as well.

Michael Douglas received an honorary Cesar for the second time in his career. Calling out the current controversy at the Oscars, which has been plagued by discussion of its lack of diversity this year, the actor-producer pointed out that the French academy is much more gender-balanced.

“I think it was very impressive tonight to see the number of women that won Cesars ... film editing, directing. As you know, we’re are having some problems in our academy in the States, and one of the dominant issues is the lack of women that get recognition,” he said. 

Douglas also cited Luc Besson as a French director he would like to work with, but copped to everyone's age, adding: “I’d be so lucky [to work with him], but now he’s old school” and said he needed to familiarize himself with new directors.

Host Florence Foresti kept the three-hour show light, opening with a pre-filmed sketch featuring Vincent Cassel, speaking English but with badly dubbed French. The host lightened the mood during the ceremony with other filmed sketches including a boozy talk show-like segment with Vanessa Paradis and a parody of classic films in the era of social media.

The Cesar audience included fashion designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Louboutin, newly appointed culture minister Audrey Azoulay and Cannes head Thierry Fremaux and president Pierre Lescure. The ceremony also included a performance by Christine and the Queens.

Mark Osborne took home the best animated feature award for The Little Prince. He thanked late author Antoine de Saint-Exupery for “creating this work of art that inspired everyone who worked on the film,” as well as the author’s family “who trusted us to make this extraordinary film.” The filmmaker also thanked all the talent that lent their voices, including Marion Cotillard.

Birdman, which won the best picture Oscar last year, took home the best foreign film Cesar. Director Alejandro G. Inarritu, whose The Revenant is competing in Sunday’s Oscars, wasn’t present to accept.