‘Cesars’ celebrate diversity in nominations
PARIS: Nominations for the Cesars, France’s version of the Oscars, have been announced, honoring a diversity of talent and themes at a time when the Academy Awards are being accused of ignoring minorities. Screen legends such as Gerard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Huppert got nods, while Hollywood star Michael Douglas will receive a lifetime achievement award.
The top choices have placed the spotlight on films with very diverse actors, directors and storylines – a contrast to the storm that has enveloped nominations to this year’s Academy Awards.
“My Golden Days” (“Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse”), recounting the recollections of a French anthropologist in Tajikistan, scooped the highest number of nominations with 11, including best film and director.
It is up against “Dheepan,” the story of Sri Lankan refugees in France that won Cannes’ Palme d’Or last year.
“Mustang,” which picked up nine nominations, tells the story of five Turkish sisters forced into arranged marriages.
“The selection is very rich, very diverse and very varied,” said Alain Terzain, president of the Cesar Academy, which presents its awards on Feb. 26, two days before the Oscars.
Women filmmakers were also strongly represented, taking three of the seven nods for best director, while women are absent in this category in the Oscars.
“I feel pretty proud to be French,” Cesar presenter Florence Foresti said. “We do pretty well here. The selection covers a good cross-section of today’s France.”
The Cesars still found room for the traditional French film elite.
Depardieu and Huppert have both been nominated for their roles as a grief-stricken couple reuniting for a trip through California’s Death Valley in “Valley of Love.”
With 32 nods between them, they are the most-nominated actors in the history of the Cesars. Depardieu has won twice and Huppert once.
Deneuve, 72, one of the longest-reigning queens of French cinema, picked up her 14th nomination for her supporting role as a judge trying to help a delinquent teen in gritty urban drama “Standing Tall” (“La tête haute”).
The other big hopeful this year is opera singer biopic “Marguerite,” joint top with 11 nominations.
Also nominated for best film, the top award at the Cesars, are “Fatima,” “Mustang,” “The Measure of a Man” and “Mon Roi.”
Michael Douglas will pick up a lifetime achievement prize.
This year’s Oscars have been rocked by controversy after no minority actors were nominated for a second year running.
Industry bible Variety magazine ran a front cover Tuesday entitled “Shame on Us,” while director Spike Lee and megastar Will Smith have both vowed to boycott the “lily white” awards. Other critics have said they are shocked that “Carol,” a lesbian love affair in 1950s New York, was snubbed, along with its gay director, Todd Haynes.
Spurred to act by the uproar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Friday promised “historic action” to redress the balance and double its female and minority members by 2020.
Variety said the problem had roots far deeper than the 89-year-old academy itself. “The Hollywood studio hierarchy remains an exclusive club chaired by white men and one white woman,” it said. “The big talent agencies have almost no minority partners. And the media that cover it all – Variety included – employ only a few people of color.”