Emerging French director Houda Benyamina has won the Best First Film Award for her breakthrough film Divines at the French Cesar Awards in Paris last night.
Divines won two other awards at the ceremony, including a Best New Actress Award for Houda’s real life sister Oualya Amamra and a Best Supporting Actress Cesar for Deborah Lukumuena.
More about Houda…
- Houda is French born, of Moroccan descent. She graduated from the ERAC acting school in Cannes.
- She won the Golden Camera and the SACD Special Mention for Divines at the 2016 Cannes International Film Festival. She also scored the Cinevision Award at Munich Film Festival for best film by an emerging director.
- Houda gave a spirited acceptance speech at Cannes, calling for more inclusion and diversity, particularly for women.
- The film was inspired by the 2005 Paris riots and was shot in and around a housing project located on the outskirts of the French capital.
- Houda compares her lead characters Douina and best friend Mamounia to the female equivalent of Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel.
- Her first short film, Ma poubelle géante, attracted the attention of prolific French producer Marc-Benoit Créancier. Houda’s follow up, the short feature Sur la route du paradis, picked up numerous awards, including at the Arab Film Festival and the Dubai International Film Festival in 2011.
- Divines was also nominated for best first feature at London and Hamptons film festivals and won both the New Auteurs and Breakthrough Audience awards at AFI Fest in 2016.