Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc was awarded the top two prizes - best film and best director - at the 2000 Lumieres du Cinema Français. The awards, which are the French equivalent of the US' Golden Globes, are considered as a dress rehearsal for the Cesar Awards, which will take place on February 19.
The Messenger has reconciled Besson - who was not on hand to receive the awards - with the most highbrow of the French critics, but had less public appeal than such cult titles as The Big Blue, Nikita and The Fifth Element. All foreign rights to the $60m title are held by Sony Pictures; Gaumont - which has produced all of Besson's films from The Big Blue onward - has kept only French-speaking rights.
Unsurprisingly enough, Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother was voted best foreign film by the foreign press. Philippe Torreton won the best actor award for his role in Bertrand Tavernier's Ca Commence Aujourd'hui and Karine Viard the best actress nod for Solveig Anspach's first effort, Haut Les Coeurs. Audrey Tautou, who appeared in Tonie Marshall's 1999 sleeper hit Venus Beaute, and Romain Duris, who featured in Cedric Klapisch's Peut Etre, won the most promising young female and male actors.