Oscar 2016: Women and Minorities Highlight the Cesar Awards Nominations

The nominations for the 2016 Cesar Awards (the French Oscar) shows many women and ethnic minorities compete in major categories.

Women: Half of the Nominated Directors


Half of the directors nominated for the Cesar Awards are female: “Mustang’s” Deniz Gamze Ergüven, “Standing Tall’s” Emmanuelle Bercot and “Mon Roi’s” Maïwenn will compete for best helmer.

By comparison, only one woman, Céline Sciamma (“Girlhood”), competed for a best director Cesar last year.

In 2014, there were none.

In 2013, there was one, Noemie Lvovsky with “Camille Rewinds.”

In 2012, Maiwenn and Valerie Donzelli competed with “Polisse” and “Declaration of War,” respectively.

Ethnic Minorities and Foreign-Language Movies

Both “Dheepan” and “Mustang,” nominated for nine Cesar Awards each, were not shot in French.

Although “Mustang” is produced by Charles Gillibert and directed by Ergüven, a French-Turkish first-timer, the film is shot in Turkish with local actresses.

“Dheepan” is shot in Tamil with unknown Sri Lankan actors. “Dheepan’s” lead actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan scored a best actor nomination for his performance as a refugee from war-torn Sri Lanka who faces another kind of war in Paris’ housing projects.

“Mustang” was also chosen by the French selection committee to represent the country in the best foreign-language Oscar race. The movie has made it on the final list, making Ergüven the only female director nominated at the Oscars for a narrative feature.

In 2010, the French Academy of Arts and Sciences President Alain Terzian, who is also member of the French Oscar selection committee, said that the Cesar Awards wouldn’t consider foreign films in categories other than the foreign-language one.

“French Academy members may have taken notice of what happened at the Oscars this year. The nominations of French-Turkish, French-Algerian and French-Moroccan films like ‘Mustang,’ ‘Fatima’ or ‘Much Loved’ are in themselves a victory for our cinema and industry,” said Edouard Waintrop, head of Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight who had selected all three movies, along with Arnaud Desplechin’s “My Golden Years,” which is competing for 11 Cesar Awards.

Soria Zeroua, who stars in “Fatima” as an immigrant from Algeria working as a maid in France and raising her two daughters, is nominated for best actress, while her co-star Zita Hanrot is vying for best supporting actress.

Much Loved
Loubna Abidar, the star of Nabil Ayouch’s “Much Loved,” which was banned in Morocco, is also competing for best actress. A Moroccan thesp, Abidar has relocated to France after being physically assaulted in Marrakech because she portrayed a prostitute in “Much Loved.”