French critics smile on 'Fears'


PARIS -- The French Union of Film Critics gave its top prize to veteran helmer Alain Resnais' "Private Fears in Public Places."

Voted best French film of 2006 by the more than 200 members of the national organization, the ensemble drama follows six people looking for love in a snow-covered Paris.

An adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn's play, the film also is nominated for eight Cesar awards -- the French industry's top honors -- to be handed out Saturday.

Monday's best foreign film prize went to awards-season favorite "Volver" by Pedro Almodovar, who also took home the award in 2002 for "Talk to Her."

Jean-Pierre Darroussin beat 74 other freshman directors to grab the nod for best first film for his Prix Louis Delluc-winner "The Premonition," in which he plays a wealthy Parisian lawyer who forgoes his life of luxury to live a common life as a hermit.