Langmann, Caucheteux producers of year

Daniel Toscan de Plantier prize ceremony in its second year

PARIS -- France's Academy of Film Arts and Sciences passed the torch from father to son Monday as Thomas Langmann was named French producer of the year, an award he shared with Why Not Prods.' Pascal Caucheteux at the second annual Daniel Toscan de Plantier prize ceremony in Paris. Last year's first annual prize was awarded to Langmann's father, producer Claude Berri, who passed away in January.

Actress Cecile de France, dressed in a police officer's uniform straight from her film set, handed the award to Langmann and Caucheteux during a lavish dinner ceremony at the George V Four Seasons hotel in Paris.

Langmann paid homage to his father, telling the crowd: "I am very, very proud to be the son of Claude Berri." Langmann produced Jean-Francois Richet's two-part "Mesrine" biopic -- a boxoffice and awards season favorite here -- as well as France's most expensive film to date, "Asterix at the Olympic Games."

"Making two films was a real gamble," Langmann said of the "Mesrine" duo in an interview, adding, "If they had failed, and audiences were waiting one month for the release of the second movie in a series that didn't work, it would have been disastrous." The first installment sold 2.3 million tickets in Gaul while the second claimed more than 1.5 million. Senator Entertainment will release the films stateside this summer.

Caucheteux was rewarded for his work on Arnaud Desplechin's Festival de Cannes competition title "A Christmas Tale," which sold more than 500,000 tickets at the Gallic boxoffice and is up for the Cesar Award for best film.

The prize is named for Daniel Toscan de Plantier, producer and head of French film promotion organization Unifrance, who died in 2003. A hand-picked jury composed of the 44 members of France's Association for Film Promotion, plus last year's 19 Cesar award winners chose from a pool of 139 eligible producers.

The night's guest of honor, French Secretary of State of Ecology Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, spoke about the evolution of digital cinema to a star-powered crowd that included "Mesrine" director Jean-Francois Richet, Head of Cinema at France's Cultural Ministry Francois Hurard, and famous French faces including Andre Dussolier, Aissa Maiga and Laurent Stocker.

Next up for the Academy is Friday's Cesar Awards ceremony.