"A Prophet" triumphs at French film awards

Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:23am EST
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By James Mackenzie

PARIS (Reuters) - Jacques Audiard's powerful prison drama "Un Prophete" (A Prophet) swept the board at the "Cesar" awards on Saturday, picking up the best film, best actor and best director prizes at France's annual version of the Oscars.

"A Prophet," one of the outstanding films at last year's Cannes film festival, was named as best foreign film at the BAFTA awards last week and is in the running in the same category at the Academy Awards on March 7.

A dark tale of a young, illiterate petty criminal who gradually climbs a brutal prison hierarchy, "A Prophet" took nine awards on the night, leaving little for the rest of the field.

Audiard, whose previous films include "De battre mon coeur s'est arrete" (The Beat My Heart Skipped), picked up the best director award, while the film's star Tahar Rahim, took both the award for best actor and best newcomer.

Niels Arestrup also won the prize for best supporting actor for his portrayal of the old-style Corsican gang boss who offers patronage to the humble and submissive young greenhorn who ends up turning the tables on him.

Audiard paid tribute to the numerous former prisoners who appeared as extras in the film and helped to create its grimly realistic atmosphere.

"We had a really exceptional cast of extras. They forced us to do something exceptional," he said.

The best actress award went to Isabelle Adjani, one of France's biggest stars, who collected her fifth Cesar playing against her glamorous image to portray a dowdy teacher facing breakdown in "La journee de la jupe" (Skirt Day).   Continued...

<p>French actor Tahar Rahim poses with his Best Actor award for the film "Un Prophete" (A Prophet) during the 35th Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris February 27, 2010. REUTERS/Victor Tonelli</p>