'Mysteries of Lisbon' Takes Louis Delluc Prize For Best French Film of Year


PARIS – Raoul Ruiz' Mysteries of Lisbon shocked the French film biz by taking the prestigious Louis Delluc prize for Gallic title of the year at a ceremony in Paris on Friday. Based on a famous 19th century Portuguese novel, the four-hour, 26-minute Portuguese-language romantic tale of interwoven stories and premiered at September's Toronto International Film Festival.

Festival de Cannes President Gilles Jacob presided over a jury of French industry heavyweights and journalists.

"It's exceptional that a film of this length would be given such an award," producer Paulo Branco said, accepting the prize on behalf of Ruiz who is currently in Chili. He added: "It proves that when one believes in one's projects, even as atypical as this one, one can succeed. This prize is a recognition: risk and audacity still pay off in cinema."

Other films vying for the title this year included Olivier Assayas' Carlos biopic, Roman Polanski's thriller The Ghost Writer, Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods and Men, Bertrand Tavernier's The Princess of Montpensier, Claire Denis' White Material, Jean-Paul Civeyrac's Young Girls in Black and Mathieu Amalric's On Tour.

The Louis Delluc prize, often nicknamed the "Goncourt of cinema" and compared to that famed literary award, kicks off Gallic awards season and typically is a good indicator of upcoming winners for the more major awards in the territory. This year, however, it remains to be seen if the four hour-plus title will be able to sway Cesar academy voters come February. Plus, many members of the film biz questioned the jury's choice of a film in Portuguese that takes place in Portugal, stars Portuguese actors and was co-produced by a Portuguese film company as worthy of the title of best French film of the year.

Last year's prize winner A Prophet proved to be an awards season oracle when the film went on to win the coveted Cesar award for best film among nine awards at the ceremony in addition to an Oscar nod for France.

Lisbon stars Adriano Luz, Maria Joao Bastos, Ricardo Pereira and French actresses Clotilde Hesme and Lea Seydoux. Seydoux also stars in Rebecca Zlotowski's Belle Epine which won the Louis Delluc prize for best first film of the year. The 68th annual Louis Delluc prize ceremony was held at the swank Fouquet's restaurant on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Friday.