Canadian filmmaker Denys Arcand and French filmmaker Patrice Leconte have been awarded the Samuel de Champlain cultural prize, an annual accolade presented by the Paris-based France-Canada Institute.

The prize acknowledges contributions to the understanding of the cultures of the two nations through letters, the moving image and theatre. The prizes were presented at a ceremony in Paris today.

Arcand, who won the Best-Foreign Language Oscar as well as the Best Picture Cesar for The Barbarian Invasions, was cited for his passion in presenting the human condition. Leconte, director of such films as Ridicule and the upcoming La Guerre Des Miss, was praised for many titles, including his 1978 comedy Les Bronzes, considered a touchstone in the extended Francophone world. Leconte spent several months in Canada shooting the 2000 France-Canada coproduction The Widow Of St. Pierre.

Other Samuel de Champlain prize winners were Quebec theatre wizard and filmmaker Robert Lepage, Armenian-French singer and sometime actor Charles Aznavour and Canadian artist and experimental filmmaker Michael Snow.