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Culture

Top French 'Oscar' goes to somber tale of religious killings

A film about the unsolved murder of French monks in 1990s Algeria has won the award for best film in a ceremony seen as France's answer to the Oscars. Director Roman Polanski also took home a "Cesar."

French director Xavier Beauvois

Beauvois said the dark film was really about 'openness'

"Des Hommes et des Dieux" (Of Gods and Men), a gripping tale of unsolved murder set in civil war-ridden Algeria in the 1990s, was the prize-winning film at France's version of the Academy Awards.

The film's director, Xavier Beauvois, used his acceptance speech to appeal for openness towards Muslims in France and described his work - set amid a savage wave of killings by Islamist militants in Algeria - as a "message of equality, liberty, and fraternity."

"I don't want people to say bad things about Muslims in the upcoming electoral campaign,” he said. “I want us to be together with them, that's the lesson of this film."

The film uses the story of seven monks viciously murdered at a monastery south of Algiers in 1996 to focus on the universal themes of faith and religious tolerance.

In addition to winning the Cesar for best film, it also won the award for best score, and Michael Lonsdale was named best supporting actor.

'The King's Speech' among favorites at Oscars

Director Roman Polanski and "The Social Network" were also honored with Cesars.

Actress Natalie Portman

Portman looks set to win her first Academy Award on Sunday

Polanski, who has avoided extradition to the United States over allegations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s, was named best director for the political thriller "The Ghost Writer."

The best foreign film went to the Facebook movie, "The Social Network," which is also up for an "Oscar" at Sunday's Academy Awards.

At the world-renowned gala in Hollywood, California, "The King's Speech" - a British historical drama - is the favorite to win the Oscar for best film.

Other movies expected to win prizes include the disturbing ballet thriller "Black Swan," starring Natalie Portman - who is the frontrunner to pick up the award for best actress.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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