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The first winner of France’s awards season was unveiled on Monday afternoon, with Olivier Assayas’ intense character study Sils Maria, starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart as an aging actress and her assistant, taking the Louis Delluc Critics’ Prize, handed out by former Cannes president Gilles Jacob and a jury of 20 film critics and personalities.
Assayas and Binoche attended a Paris event to accept the award.
“I think this is the best movie prize you can get in France. It’s the oldest, the most prestigious and it’s given by people I admire and respect. It’s the most difficult prize to get when you are a French director, to get this kind of recognition in Paris, and it’s great to get the award for this film,” Assays told The Hollywood Reporter.
“It’s a prize I can share with Juliette Binoche, I can share with Kristen Stewart, I can share with Chloe Moretz. It was really a labor of love,” he said.
“This prize is especially a recognition of the director’s work,” said Binoche. “It’s a film I respect and love. I am very touched by it. It has so many layers.”
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The shortlist of nominees was announced on Nov. 28, including Abderrahmane Sissako’s Islamic fundamentalist drama Timbuktu, Jean-Luc Godard’s surreal Goodbye to Language, Bertrand Bonello’s biopic Saint Laurent and Sils Maria.
Other candidates included Claus Drexel’s documentary about the homeless of Paris, On the Edge of the World, Benoit Jacquot’s romantic drama 3 Hearts and Robin Capiglione’s immigration crime thriller Eastern Boys.
Saint Laurent is France’s candidate for the best foreign-language film Oscar, and French co-production Timbuktu is Mauritania’s first-ever entry into that race.
Last year, Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color took home the prize.
The Delluc honor for best first film went to Thomas Cailley for Love at First Fight (Les Combattants).
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