Hollande’s mistress hopes for French Oscar

France is set to hold its verson of the Oscar awards on Friday night with all the build-up to the event focussed on whether the President's mistress Julie Gayet will scoop one of the prized gongs

Hollande's mistress hopes for French Oscar
Julie Gayet, Hollande's mistress, who could pick up a Cesar award on Friday night, which is the equivalent of a French Oscar. Photo: AFP

A lesbian love movie that dazzled Cannes leads the race ahead of the French Oscars on Friday, where Julie Gayet, the actress outed as the president's lover, is running for an award for a role as a goverment adviser.

Quentin Tarantino and Scarlett Johansson will be attending the Cesars ceremony in Paris, held two days before the US Oscars, with the "Django Unchained" director set to hand Johansson an honorary award.

But both will be sharing the celebrity spotlight with 41-year-old Gayet, star of the soap opera that gripped France for weeks after President Francois Hollande was snapped arriving for trysts with her at a Paris address.

Leading the pack of Cesars nominations, the Palme d'Or winner "Blue is the Warmest Colour" is up for eight awards including Best Picture and Best Director for the French-Tunisian filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche.

The highly-charged movie's sensational welcome last year was tarnished by a public row between the director and his young stars, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, notably over the filming of graphic sex scenes.

The controversy now simmered down, Seydoux is running for a Best Actress Cesar, while her co-star is nominated as Best Newcomer for the three-hour film about a blue-haired art student and her intense erotic relationship with a younger girl.

For Best Film, Kechiche is up against Roman Polanski's "Venus in Fur", an edgy drama adapted from the stage about sexual role-play, named in seven categories, and the graphic gay-themed thriller "Stranger by the Lake" by Alain Guiraudie with eight nominations.

Unusually for the French awards, weighty dramas may have to make room for an offbeat coming-out comedy, "Les Garcons et Guillaume, a table!" (Me, Myself
and Mum) by Guillaume Galienne.

The cooky movie, adapted from Galienne's one-man show, took top awards at the Directors' Fortnight prize in Cannes and trumps the Cesars pack with 10 nominations overall.

'Mini-skirted adviser'

The coincidence of Gayet's nomination at the Cesars has been the cause of much chortling on French social media.

She is nominated as supporting actress in a comedy about life at the French foreign ministry, Bertrand Tavernier's "Quai d'Orsay", set in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003.

In the film, Gayet plays the role of a mini-skirted adviser to the minister with a penchant for suspenders and no hesitation about using her seductive powers to get what she wants.

The fallout from Hollande's affair with Gayet prompted him to end his long-term relationship with Valerie Trierweiler, the country's de-facto first lady. It is not known whether he has continued his liason with Gayet, a character actress who has appeared in more than 70 films.

Gayet has kept a low profile since the affair went public and skipped the traditional dinner held the weekend before the Cesar awards, which are decided in a vote by some 4,000 French film professionals.

Johansson, who is engaged to a French journalist, will be recognised at the Cesars for a career in which she has already made 35 films.

However she could be in for a mixed reception in the French media after going on US television last month to declare that Parisians lived up to their rude stereotype.

She also created a stir internationally by ditching her role as ambassador for British charity Oxfam in favour of continuing with an Israeli company, SodaStream, which runs a factory on illegally occupied Palestinian territory.

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The one French film you need to see this month

If there's one film you have to see in France this month then "Le Chant du Loup", starring some of France's most famous actors is the one. French movie experts Lost in Frenchlation explain why.

The one French film you need to see this month
Photo: Screengrab YouTube trailer Le Chant du Loup

Submarine films are a subgenre of war films that are able to heighten intensity due to their unique setting.

They are able to go beyond the normal tensions of the average action film by highlighting the close quarters and removal from civilization.

In addition to the claustrophobia and isolation, there’s a number of things that can go wrong that far down, from machinery fires to decompression sickness.

Over 150 submarine films have been made in the past 100 years.

This genre is popular with French and Americans alike, leading to successful films such as The Hunt for Red October in America and now Le Chant du Loup (The Wolf's Call) in France, and even a cultural overlap in the English-language French-Belgian film Kursk.

Le Chant du Loup stars César Award winning actor, Omar Sy, who became one of France’s most popular actors after his role in Les Intouchables.

Mathieu Kassovitz of Amelie fame also stars in this film.

He is popular in France and abroad, earning him numerous awards from Cannes to Chicago.

Le Chant du Loup is “the wolf’s call” the sound of a sonar that can be detected by the main character of the film, an acoustic analyst known as “the golden ear”.

This film provides insight into French politics and warfare, fueled by director Antonin Baudry’s personal experiences from his time as a diplomat and advisor to the prime minister.

A realistic element is also added by the fact that the film was shot using real submarines and sets that were built in real scale.

Having the cast and crew move around in a confined space when filming allowed them to connect to the story.

Don’t miss this film being screened on Thursday March 14th at 7 pm at Cinéma Luminor with English subtitles by Lost in Frenchlation: