Franco-Algerian director Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche has won France’s prestigious Prix Jean Vigo for his costume drama Les Chants de Mandrin, exploring the legend of the French 18th century Robin Hood-style bandit Louis Mandrin.
The film, which was shot on location from October to December 2010 in the countryside of southwestern France, was produced by Ameur Zaimeche’s production company Sarrazink Productions. MK2 is handling French distribution and international sales.
The prize, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, is aimed at “directors of the future” and fetes filmmakers on the basis of “their independence of spirit” as well as “the quality of their direction.”
Ameur-Zaimeche’s fourth picture, Les Chants de Mandrin marks a change in style for the director. His previous three films were set against modern backdrops and tackled contemporary issues related to the Algerian immigrant population in France.
Bled Number One (Back Home), about a young Algerian sent back to Algeria after a stint in prison in France, screened in Un Certain Regard in 2006 and picked up the festival’s Youth Award. Dernier Maquis, set in a haulage firm on the grim outskirts of Paris, premiered in Directors’ Fortnight in 2008.
The Prix Jean Vigo was created in 1951 to commemorate the pioneering Zero de Conduite filmmaker Jean Vigo, who died in 1934 but was a seminal influence on the French New Wave of the 1950s. Past recipients include Claude Chabrol and Jean-Luc Godard.