Ari Folman, the director of Israeli animated documentary "Waltz with Bashir" made history on Friday when he became the first Israeli director to win France's prestigious Cesar award for best foreign film.
"This movie was made with a great deal of love, passion, a lot of patience, and I think that if this movie was made for the cinema, it was equally made for peace," Folman said during his acceptance speech on stage at the Chatelet theater in Paris.
"This movie's only message is - be patient, believe in others, have faith in love and peace," he added, to the sound of enthusiastic applause from the audience.
'Waltz with Bashir'. Who needs the Oscars? (Animation: David Polonsky)
Folman's film was one of the favorites during the recent film festival in Cannes and sold 500,000 movie tickets in France alone. It also won the Golden Globe award in January.
After the disappointment they faced at the Academy Awards last week, Folman and his team of animators and producers return home as winners. The film competed Friday against an impressive list of nominees in the category, which included Sean Penn's "Into the Wild", Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood", Bouli Lanners' "Eldorado", Matteo Garrone's "Gomorra," Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's "Lorna's Silence" and James Gray's "Two Lovers".
Vincent Cassel, one of the stars of the Oceans 12 and 13 movies, scooped the best actor prize Friday for a role playing a notorious French gangster.
But his movie, "Mesrine", which went into the Cesars ceremony with nominations for 10 prizes, was brushed aside by "Seraphine", the story of a dowdy cleaning woman who has a secret life as an artist, which took seven awards including best French movie.
"Seraphine", directed by Martin Provost, also won the best actress Cesar for its Belgian star Yolande Moreau, best screenplay, best photography, best music, best decor and for its costumes.
AFP contributed to this report