Monaco Forum ends on high note

Daniel Auteuil, Jeanne Moreau take prizes on closing night

MONTE CARLO -- Scribes and stars were in the spotlight at the ninth annual Monaco Forum of Cinema and Literature, a three-day book-to-film extravaganza that wrapped Saturday night in Monte-Carlo.

The festival and simultaneous adaptation market brought together famous faces from the film and literature worlds for three days of premiere screenings, roundtable discussions, book signings, master classes and lavish soirees. Despite the tough economic times, the event, presided by Monaco's Prince Albert II, managed to attract a who's who of French literary and cinematic talents for three days of Monegasque glamour and hospitality.

The program, open to professionals and the public, featured premiere screenings of Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon," Stephen Frears' "Cheri" and Zabou Breitman's "Someone I Loved," which will open the Col Coa French film festival in L.A. in April. The film's cast, including Daniel Auteuil and Marie-Josee Croze, joined Breitman and the film's producer, Babe Films' Fabio Conversi, for a roundtable discussion about bringing the book by Anne Gavalda to the screen.

"A successful adaptation is when audiences feel the same way after the film as they do after reading the book," Breitman said in an interview, adding that "a film allows us to see the story a book tells. The cinema is a form of writing in itself."

Friday night's "Cheri" screening was followed by a gala dinner featuring a buffet of Gallic talent, including Elsa Zylberstein, jury member and Cesar for best supporting actress winner; famous French scribes Florian Zeller and David Foekinos; plus "Largo Winch" star Tomer Sisley.

Other notable events included a master class with Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai, a debate about producing films in Europe and the Mediterranean, pitching sessions and a discussion about adapting books to television.

A series of eight prizes based on book-to-film or book-to-TV adaptations were awarded at the closing ceremony Saturday. The prize for best film adaptation of a book went to Jean-Francois Richet's "Mesrine" biopic, following the film's Cesar Award wins last month.

Auteuil was named best actor in a film adaptation of a book for his role in "Loved," and Conversi was named best producer.

"I hope I won't have to give you back this award at the end of the film," Auteuil told the crowd before the film screened.

Auteuil is rumored to be taking a career turn and directing his own film adaptation of a French novel.

Jerome Salle's action-adventure story "Largo Winch" took home a Special Forum of Cinema and Literature Prize. The film, which stars Sisley alongside Kristin Scott Thomas, is an adaptation of the popular Belgian comic book series.

Legendary French actress Jeanne Moreau was awarded a Trophy of Honor by H.S.H. Prince Albert II at the ceremony held in the Prince Rainer III Auditorium.

"Thank you very much, dear Jeanne," His Serene Highness told the actress in perfect English.

Saturday's closing ceremony was followed by a lavish dinner complete with music and dancing in the city's famed Hotel de Paris.

Literary adaptations are all the rage in France, and Gallic authors are seeing big payoffs for the translation from page to screen. "Asterix and the Olympic Games" producers Thomas Langmann and Jerome Seydoux paid a hefty €3 million to the comic series' author, Albert Uderzo, and "Little Nick" scribes Anne Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempe shared €1.5 million for the star-powered adaptation, which will hit French theaters in September. Other anticipated adaptations include Anne Fontaine's April release "Coco Before Chanel," Bertrand Tavernier's "In the Electric Mist," based on a novel by James Lee Burke, and Muriel Barberry's October release "L'Elegance du Herisson."