Quebec director Monia Chokri wins César award for best foreign film

Quebec’s Monia Chokri, director of Simple comme Sylvain (The Nature of Love), won a César award for best foreign film on Friday, beating Christoper Nolan’s Oppenheimer.

The Quebec film was also up against Marco Bellocchio’s L’enlèvement, Aki Kaurismaki’s Les feuilles mortes, and Wim Wenders’s Perfect Days.

This is the fourth time in the history of the Césars that a woman has won in that category, after Jane Campion in 1994, Sofia Coppola in 2005 and Valerie Faris in 2007.

Picking up her trophy on stage at the 48th César Awards ceremony for French cinema, Chokri said jokingly, “I’m so sorry Mr. Nolan.”

Chokri thanked a host of collaborators, including producer Nancy Grant, known for her work with Xavier Dolan and Anne Émond.

“You made me a filmmaker,” Chokri said. “I can say today that the life I have is bigger than the one I dreamed of.”

The romantic comedy-drama, which stars Magalie Lépine-Blondeau and Pierre-Yves Cardinal, received a seven-minute ovation during its world premiere in Cannes in May 2023, where it was selected in the Un Certain Regard section.

The film has already won awards at the Cabourg Festival, in the north of France, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Youth Prize.

Simple comme Sylvain tells the story of Sophia, a 40-year-old philosophy professor who has lived for 10 years with Xavier, a political science professor. Her life changes the day she meets Sylvain, an entrepreneur from the Laurentians whose lifestyle is the polar opposite of hers.

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