The Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival has also unveiled its winners.

Respected French Critics Union (Le Syndicat Francais de la Critique de Cinema) names Pierre Schoeller’s political drama The Minister best film of 2011.

Pierre Schoeller’s political drama The Minister (Exercice de l’Etat), set against the backdrop of French corridors of power, has been named best film by the French Film Critics Union.

The film — starring Olivier Gourmet as minister fighting to save his political skin — has been a firm favourite with critics ever since its premiere in Un Certain Regard at Cannes last year where it won the Fipresci prize.

The picture is also nominated in 11 César categories including best script, director and film.

The French Critics Union — numbering some 250 critics and film journalists – also awarded Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic Melancholia the best foreign film.

Alix Delaporte’s Angèle and Tony about an unlikely romance between a female ex-convict and a fisherman in a small Normandy port picked up best first film.

Jean-Baptiste Leonetti’s futuristic drama Carré Blanc won best singular French-language film.

Best short film went to Guillaume Brac’s A World Without Women (Un Monde Sans Femmes) about a man’s attempts to pick up two women on holiday in the northern French resort where he lives.

In other French awards, the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival announced its winners over the weekend.

In the international section, Korean Ga Fu Yoon’s Guest — about a girl who goes to confront her father’s mistress and ends up meeting the woman’s children — won the Grand Prix.

Swiss Rolando Colla Einsprush VI, about the death of a refugee in custody, won the Jury Prize.  American director Shawn Christensen’s Curfew, the tale of a man who is asked to babysit his nine-year-old niece by his estranged sister, picked up the public prize.

In the French section Vincent Macaigne won the Grand Prize for Ce qu’il restera de nous, about two brothers who have been dealt with very differently in their father’s will.

The Special Jury Prize went to Angele Chiodo’s La Sole, entre l’eau et le sable. The public prize was picked up by Hugo Chesnard’s La France qui se lève tôt about an illegal immigrant fight against deportation.