French Academy Fetes Agnes Varda, Robin Campillo at Nominees Luncheon

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for THR
Agnes Varda's cutout and JR

Varda attended the Cesars luncheon after famously sending a cardboard cutout to the Oscars class photo last week.

To say that Faces Places director Agnes Varda stood out in the Oscars class photo last week would be a bit of a misnomer — but the best documentary nominee definitely made her mark when she sent a life-size cardboard cutout to the event in L.A.

As the French Academy honored its Cesar nominees with a luncheon at the famed Le Fouquet’s on the Champs-Elysees, Varda, who was also awarded an honorary Oscar in November, credited her co-director JR with conceiving the stunt.

“JR thought of it, of course, and it was a good idea because it created a lot of buzz,” she said of the joke that drew laughs from fellow nominees such as Greta Gerwig and Meryl Streep.

Varda said she remained in Paris but JR has been working on a project in San Francisco. She was accompanied to the luncheon by her daughter Rosalie Varda, who executive produced Places, which is nominated for a best documentary Cesar as well.

The Cleo From 5 to 7 director will be giving a talk at Harvard University in late February, before traveling to L.A. for the Oscars, meaning she'll miss the French ceremony that takes place just two days prior. However, she downplayed the film’s Academy Award chances because of its French language. “But we enjoy what comes. If it doesn’t come, fine, when I get to the evening of the Oscar, I will enjoy it of course,” she added.

Actors Guillaume Canet, Laurent Lafitte and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Barbara director Mathieu Amalric, 120 BPM director Robin Campillo and Redoubtable director Michel Hazanavicius were among the other Cesar nominees celebrating.

Academy president Alain Terzian welcomed the nominees, joking that lunch could not begin until Canet had taken his seat. Just as Canet made it to his table, a casual Gainsbourg swooped in for a late entrance.

Director Albert Dupontel, who’s See You Up There scored 13 nominations, was absent. The awards-shy director had also asked for his film to be left out of the famous screener box containing all films with any nomination sent to the French Academy's 4,200 members.

Representatives for the organization Fondation des Femmes were on hand to pass out white ribbons, encouraging guests to wear them the evening of the Cesars to support the Time's Up movement. Only a few attendees at the luncheon were sporting a ribbon, as the movement has yet to become as visible in France as it is in America.

But with Hazanavicius launching his #WeToo movement last week, it remains to be seen if the Cesars red carpet will have a white streak.

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