Timbuktu scores seven Césars

Now the Oscars beckon …

by Richard Mowe

Abderrahmane Sissako, whose Timbuktu swept the César board collecting seven awards
Abderrahmane Sissako, whose Timbuktu swept the César board collecting seven awards

In an epic length César ceremony last night (20 February), presided over by the indefatigable Edouard Baer, Timbuktu emerged triumphant with no fewer than seven awards including best film and best director for Abderrahmane Sissako.

Its success at the 40th edition of what are dubbed “the French Oscars” bodes well for Sunday’s Academy Awards where the film is nominated for best foreign language film.

Sissako, unlike many of the recipients, gave a measured response to the glory thrust upon him by thanking the organisers of the Cannes Film Festival for launching the film last year (although it missed out on any main prizes).

He waxed lyrical about the French film industry and his producer Sylvie Pialat for supporting him over the two decades since he came in France. He felt protected and nurtured in a country that is able to stand up to “terror attacks and other horrors.” He evoked too the citizens of his home country of Mauritania who he felt sure would be watching and rooting for him.

The film’s sweep of the board also included best sound, cinematography, editing, music, original screenplay, which he wrote with his wife Kessen Tall.

Kirsten Stewart, wobbling on the highest of heels, was the first American actress to win a César trophy for her performance opposite Juliet Binoche in Olivier Assayas’s Sils Maria.

Xavier Dolan’s Mommy surprisingly was named best foreign language film (in competition with Boyhood, 12 Years A Slave, Two Days One Night, Grand Budapest Hotel and Winter Sleep), a nice addition to its jury prize from Cannes.

In the acting stakes the Academie members supported the younger generation with gongs for Comedie Francaise-trained Pierre Niney for his performance in Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent and Adele Haenel for her feisty role in Love At First Fight. Haenel’s sparring partner in the film, Kevin Azais, was best male newcomer and the film won in the best first film category, adding to its considerable awards roll.

Sean Penn had to wait until close to the end of the ceremony to receive his honorary César which was presented by Marion Cottillard to a standing ovation.

Those awards in full:-

Best Film

Best Director

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actress

Best Actor

Best Supporting Actor

  • Reda Kateb for Hippocrates

Best Original Screenplay

  • Abderrahmane Sissako, Kessen Tall for Timbuktu

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Costume

Best Set Decoration

  • Thierry Flamand for The Beauty And The Beast

Best Cinematography

Best Sound

  • Philippe Welsh, Roman Dymn, Thierry Delor for Timbuktu

Best Animated Film

  • Minuscule

Best Foreign Language Film

Best First Film

Best New Actress

  • Louane Emera for The Belier Family

Best New Actor

Best Original Music

Best Documentary

Best Short Film

  • Le Femme De Rio by Emma Luchini, Nicolas Rey

Best Animated Short Film

  • Les Petits Caillous by Chloé Mazlo

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