Aki Kaurismaki wins Louis Delluc Prize for best French film in 2011. Picture is also Finland’s Foreign Language Oscar contender this year.

Finnish Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre has won the prestigious Louis Delluc Prize, for best French film in 2011, jury president Gilles Jacob announced at the annual ceremony at Le Fouquet’s on Friday.

Kaurismäki’s tale about a former artist-turned-shoe shiner, living in the northern French port of Le Havre, who befriends a young, illegal, North African immigrant, is the Finnish director’s second French-language picture after his 1991, Paris-set La Vie de Bohème.

“We left Cannes feeling a bit disappointed so this is a lovely gift with which to end the year, especially in the face of such brilliant competition,” said producer Stéphane Parthenay, accepting the award on Kaurismäki’s behalf. The picture was seen as a strong contender for the Palme d’Or at Cannes last May.

Other films on the short list included Golden Globes and Oscar contender The Artist, Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance, Bruno Dumont’s Hors Satan, Robert Guediguian’s The Snows of Kilimandjaro, Celine Sciamma’s Tomboy, Pierre Schoeller’s The Minister, Alain Cavalier’s Pater and Valérie Donzelli’s French Oscar submission Declaration of War.

Upcoming filmmaker Djinn Carrenard won the best first film for his micro-budget production Donoma, which cost him just €150 to make.

The Louis Delluc Prize was created in 1937 in honour of Louis Delluc, one of France’s first journalists specialising in cinema.