Why Not picks up Plantier award

'Prophet' duo Caucheteux and Sorlat share producer honor

PARIS -- Why Not Productions' Pascal Caucheteux and Gregoire Sorlat shared the prize for best producers at the third annual edition of France's Academy of Film Arts and Sciences' Daniel Toscan du Plantier prize held Monday night in Paris.

The award marked Caucheteux's second consecutive win after the superproducer shared the same prize last year with La Petite Reine's Thomas Langmann. Langmann's father Claude Berri, who died last January, received the award's inaugural prize the year before.

Caucheteux and Sorlat produced this year's awards season favorite "A Prophet" with Chic Films' Marco Cherqui. The prison drama, first screened at last year's Festival de Cannes, won the BAFTA for Best Foreign Film and will vie for the same prize at the Oscars on March 7. The winning production duo were also behind 2009 titles Christophe Honore's "Non ma fille tu n'iras pas danser," Ken Loach's "Looking for Eric" and Bruno Podalydes' "Bancs Publics ("Versailles rive droite"). Why Not's latest production, Claire Denis' "White Material," hits Gallic theaters on March 24.

So what is Why Not's secret for making art house films that also please critics and crowds all over the world ? "Just like in a kitchen, the recipes for success are a secret -- what's important is what ends up on the table. The important thing is the films themselves, we don't need to talk about the production," Sorlat said in an interview of the traditionally tacit Why Not Productions. He added: "I'd like to thank Jacques Audiard, Ken Loach, Bruno Podalydes and Christophe Honore for their work."

A team of 289 voters including Academy members plus the previous year's Cesar winners pick the winner out of a pool of 152 producers. Producers who have made a minimum of two films -- at least one of which was released in 2009 -- are eligible for the prize.

The award is named after producer and former Unifrance President Daniel Toscan du Plantier. French Cultural Minister Frederic Mitterand gave a speech at the awards ceremony honoring the memory of Toscan du Plantier after organizers screened a 15-minute homage to the late producer. Mitterand called Toscan du Plantier an "admirable man" in his very personal and emotive speech.

The dinner, hosted by the French Academy of Film Arts and Sciences and presided by Academy President Alain Terzian, was held at the luxe Hotel George V. Several Gallic talent, including Gaspard Ulliel, Elsa Zylberstein and Amira Casar, were on hand to fete the producers nominated.

The Academy's next event, the famed Cesar Awards, will be held on Saturday (Feb. 27) at the Chatelet Theater in Paris.