Bye Bye Morons was named Best Film at the Césars Photo: UniFrance
In the absence of director Dupontel, who also stars, it was left to actress Virginie Efira to receive the award on stage at the mythical Olympia music hall (capacity almost 2000) whose stage has been graced by the likes of Edith Piaf, Joséphine Baker, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Madonna … and many more. Efira plays a seriously ill woman on a mission to reunite with her long lost child.
Bye Bye Morons also took the prizes for best supporting actor for Nicolas Mairé as well as original screenplay, cinematography and set design.
Love Affair(s) was rewarded with a best supporting actress gong for Emilie Duquenne.
The modest throng without any public present were pleased to be able to escape the national 6pm curfew as cultural exceptions to witness the 46th ceremony in person - France’s riposte to the Oscars.
Best actor César for Sami Bouajila for A Son
Despite the closure of French cinemas from October and another shutdown earlier in the year during the first lockdown, many of the titles nominated managed to be released on the big screen on their home turf and in festivals as well as streaming later down the line. The Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot underlined that France had managed to make more than 200 films in the last 12 months - ready to be revealed once cinemas reopen while many of the participants urged her to speed up the reopening of the cultural sector.
One of the most insistent was actress Corinne Masiero who liberated herself from a blood-stained donkey costume and got naked in protest at ongoing cultural Covid restrictions and the plight of freelance theatre and film workers before presenting the costume award to Madeline Fontaine for La Bonne Epouse.
The clear message from the organisers the Académie des Césars and TV channel Canal+ broadcasting live was that the physical show had to be maintained at all costs to give “life to cinema despite the crisis.”
Among the other nominations Laure Calamy, from the Netflix series Call My Agent, took best actress honours for My Donkey, My Lover and I while Sami Bouajila was named best actor for A Son (Un fils).
Newcomer acting awards went to Jean-Pascal Zadi for Tout Simplement Noir and to 14-year-old Fathia Youssouf in Cuties. Zadi also stars in his film about a Black actor trying to organise a protest in France, and gave an impassioned speech about facing up to prejudice.
The much favoured Adolescentes, by Sébastien Lifshitz, which also was in the best film category, received the best documentary accolade.
Since last year’s controversial proceedings including a backlash as a result of a best director award for Roman Polanski and An Officer And A Spy and a walk-out by the director Céline Sciamma and cast of Portrait Of A Lady on Fire, the organisation of the Academy has been revamped and expanded from 45 to 162 board members with the aim of ensuring greater inclusivity on gender balance and racial grounds. As part of the diversity Ladj Ly, whose Les Miserables won best film among other accolades, and Lyna Khoudri, who won best female newcomer for her role in Papicha have become members.
Marie-Ange Luciani, producer of Robin Campillo’s AIDS activist drama 120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) has been active in ringing the changes. “We still have a long way to go and there should be way more diversity within the 4292 voting members, but even in French society, there is a lot of work to do to make it more inclusive,” she has been quoted as saying. New faces at the top include the new president, Veronique Cayla, former head of Franco-German channel Arte, and vice chair Eric Toledano, the popular co-director of smash-hit The Intouchables and C’est La Vie (Le Sens de la Fête).
On a lighter note the Academy paid a special tribute to the cult comedy troupe Le Splendid whom they reunited including Josiane Balasko, Thierry Lhermitte, Gérard Jugnot, Christian Clavier, Michel Blanc and Marie-Anne Chazel and awarded an honorary César to the late Jean-Pierre Bacri.
Bye Bye Morons (Adieu Les Cons), dir: Albert Dupontel
Albert Dupontel, Bye Bye Morons (Adieu Les Cons)
Laure Calamy, My Donkey, My Lover and I (Antoinette Dans Les Cévennes)
Sami Bouajila, A Son (Un Fils)
Best Supporting Actress
Emilie Dequenne, Love Affair(s) (The Things We Say, The Things We Do, Les Choses Qu’On Dit, Les Choses Qu’On Fait)
Best Supporting Actor
Nicolas Mairé, Bye Bye Morons (Adieu Les Cons)
Best Female Newcomer
Fathia Youssouf, Cuties (Mignonnes)
Best Male Newcomer
Jean-Pascal Zadi, Tout Simplement Noir
Best Original Screenplay
Albert Dupontel, Bye Bye Morons (Adieu Les Cons)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best actress César for Laure Calamy (from Neflix series Call My Agent) for My Donkey, My Lover and I
Stéphanie Demoustier, The Girl With A Bracelet (La Fille Au Bracelet)
Alexis Kavyrchine, Bye Bye Morons (Adieu Les Cons)
Tina Baz, Adolescentes
Best Costume Design
Madeline Fontaine, How To Be A Good Wife (La Bonne Epouse)
Best Production Design
Carlos Conti, Bye Bye Morons (Adieu Les Cons)
Best Animated Feature
Josep, dir: Aurel
Adolescentes, dir: Sébastien Lifshitz
Best First Film
Two Of Us (Deux), dir: Filippo Meneghetti
Rone, La Nuit Venue
Best Short Film
Qu’importe si les bêtes meurent, dir: Sofia Alaoui
Best Foreign Film
Another Round, dir: Thomas Vinterberg
The late Jean-Pierre Bacri