(Angoulême) Consecrated by a festival with growing success, Katell Quillévéré won the first prize at the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival on Sunday for Le temps d’aimer, a historical and sentimental fresco on the future of a woman shorn for having had a relationship with a German soldier during World War II.

1947. On a beach in Normandy, in the north-west of France, Madeleine (Anaïs Demoustier), waitress in a hotel-restaurant, mother of a little boy, meets François (Vincent Lacoste), a rich student and cultured but mysterious. Love at first sight is immediate.

The two come together very quickly. For Madeleine, this union is an opportunity: to forget the horrors of war and especially her lover during the occupation, a German soldier with whom she had a son, Daniel. Shorn and chased from her home, Madeleine is a bruised and wounded woman.

The result of several years of work, this film, which was first presented out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is inspired by the life of the director’s grandmother, who had a child at 17 with a Wehrmacht soldier.

Does the prize in Angoulême sound the hour of recognition for Katell Quillévéré? “I feel like the life of my movie really starts here and it’s a wonderful feeling,” she said upon receiving her statuette.

At 43, not totally unknown but not yet in the spotlight, this filmmaker of emotion and underground stories had had great success with her previous films.

Suzanne, the story of a love that conquers all with Adèle Haenel and Sara Forestier, and Mend the Living (2016), an adaptation of Maylis de Kerangal’s successful live, which tells of a heart transplant at full speed.

Each time, she co-signs the scenarios of what she calls “underground stories”. Those that a country or a family does not want to tell and that must be “ripped out”. As when she co-signed in 2022, with Hélier Cisterne, the series The world of tomorrow on the birth of French hip-hop.

The time to love is part of this quest. “It’s a story that has remained secret for a very long time,” the filmmaker told AFP in May. “When the truth finally came out, I wanted to make this film, which is not totally autobiographical”.

The Angoulême Festival, whose jury was chaired by Laetitia Casta, also twice awarded Rosalie, by Stéphanie Di Giusto, who won the Valois prize for actress for Nadia Tereszkiewicz and the music prize for Hania Rani.

The Valois screenplay prize was awarded to Yolande Moreau and Frédérique Moreau, for The Poet’s Bride, by Yolande Moreau, former star of the Deschiens series.

For its 16th edition, the Festival is experiencing growing success, with once again record attendance: despite the scorching heat, 58,000 people flocked to the halls compared to 52,000 in 2022.

The public is seduced by this popular event and by its pass, which for a few tens of euros allows you to see a series of films not yet released in theaters.

Same success on the side of the stars, delighted to see their film confronted with a real public. In Angoulême, no red carpet and a less glamorous atmosphere than in Cannes but Diane Kruger, Laure Calamy, Karin Viard, Benjamin Biolay or Mathieu Kassovitz were there this year.

Its co-creator, Dominique Besnehard, explained to AFP that he wanted to make it “a bridge with Cannes but remain a pioneering festival”, recalling that Angoulême had in 2011 the first Intouchables screening, a huge success in French cinema. with nearly 20 million admissions.