Mustang on a roll at the Césars

Diversity name of the game in French awards.

by Richard Mowe

Best film at the Césars: non-professional actor Soria Zeroual in Philippe Faucon’s Fatima
Best film at the Césars: non-professional actor Soria Zeroual in Philippe Faucon’s Fatima Photo: Unifrance

A debut feature by a woman director, which came out of nowhere, has scooped one of the top prizes as best first film in the French Oscars, the Césars, at a ceremony earlier this evening (26 February) at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris.

Mustang by Deniz Gamze Ergüven could now be set for Oscar glory among the best foreign-language nominees. She is the only female director for a narrative feature competing in the Academy Awards.

Mustang also won accolades for editing and its original score as well as best original screenplay for Deniz Gamze Ergüven and Alice Winocour.

Best first film award for Mustang at the Césars awards in Paris
Best first film award for Mustang at the Césars awards in Paris Photo: Unifrance

As if to demonstrate France’s all-embracing cultural diversity, Philippe Faucon’s Fatima won best film. This gentle yet affecting celebration of the fortitude and intelligence of an Algerian cleaning lady (played by non-professional actor Soria Zeroual, who was an actual cleaner when she was cast) examines her struggles to raise her two daughters in contemporary France.

Arnaud Desplechin won best director for My Golden Days in which he returned to the rich and complex emotional landscape he explored in My Sex Life... Or How I Got Into An Argument and A Christmas Tale. Predictably Vincent Lindon consolidated his best actor award in Cannes last year with a best actor César for Stephane Brizé’s The Measure Of A Man.

Michael Douglas received an honorary César award for the sum of his career. Actress Florence Floresti commented in jocular mode that he had sparked “wild passion and murderous instincts in women” through films such as Basic Instinct.

The 41st ceremony was presided over by Foresti and veteran director Claude Lelouch of A Man And A Woman fame.

Other awards are:

Best film: Fatima by Philippe Faucon;

Best director: Arnaud Desplechin for My Golden Days;

Best actress: Catherine Frot in Marguerite;

Best actor: Vincent Lindon in The Measure Of A Man;

Best actress newcomer: Zita Hanrot, for Fatima;

Best actor newcomer: Rod Paradot for Standing Tall;

Best supporting actress: Borgen star Sidse Babett Knudsen, for Courted by Christian Vincent;

Best supporting actor: Benoît Magical in Standing Tall;

Best cinematography: Christophe Offenstein for Guillaume Nicloux’s Valley Of Love;

Best original screenplay: Alice Winocour and Deniz Gamze Ergüven, for Mustang;

Best adapted screenplay: Philippe Faucon, for Fatima;

Best animated feature: The Little Prince by Mark Osborne;

Best costumes: Pierre-Jean Larroque for Marguerite;

Best production design: Martin Kurel, for Marguerite;

Best editing: Mathilde Van De Moortel for Mustang;

Best sound: François Musy, Gabriel Hafner for Marguerite

Best music: Warren Ellis for Mustang;

Best foreign film: Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu.

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