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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Sunday Summary of the 25th or the ceremony of MD Awards

Disclaimer: this piece is meant as a humorous recap of the news of last week. The views expressed are opinions from our writer and do not represent the views of the whole team of the Maastricht Diplomat or UNSA Maastricht.


Esteemed readers, welcome to the MD Awards. In honour of the 49th edition of the Césars, a French ceremony recognizing the greatest works of cinema of the year, the Maastricht Diplomat celebrates the inaugural MD Awards, acknowledging the week's news highlights.


I, Eléonore, shall serve as your host today. On this Sunday, February 25th, allow me to invite you to a summary of the most fascinating news of this week.


Let us commence without further delay, sensing your eagerness.


Best performance, the nominees : 


FRANCE

Let us start this esteemed ceremony evening with the first nomination for France. One of the most remarkable performances was witnessed on February 21. For the first time in French history, foreign and communist resistance fighters will be honoured with entry into the Panthéon. Missak and his wife Mélinée epitomise absolute patriotism, resisting the Nazis, with Missak ultimately losing his life in execution. Beyond the heroic and tragic tale of the Manouchian couple, this Panthéon induction stands as a significant accomplishment for President Macron. Amidst a complex and tense political landscape where Macron's government is purportedly accused of flirting with the far-right, this event leaves a lasting impression while allowing Macron to assert his stance between extremes. A truly remarkable performance deserving of the first nomination.


ARGENTINA

The Argentine president, now in office for two months, celebrates achieving budgetary balance as early as January. Yet, is this truly a mission accomplished? Javier Milei, who promised drastic economic change during the elections for an economy on the brink, has achieved his "zero deficit" objective —a feat not accomplished since 2012. Budget cuts have been made within public expenditures, resulting in cuts to energy subsidies, pensions, public employment, and even social assistance programs. These measures have led to a surge in poverty rates. Alarming figures released by the Argentine Catholic University suggest that the population in poverty has risen from approximately 49% to 57%. While the libertarian president heralds a victory, at what cost will the success of his objectives come? The IMF forecasts a 2.8% drop in GDP—a performance that, despite being delivered, conceals present misery on the verge of worsening.


YE

The final nominee in this category, YE, formerly known as Kanye West, delivered a remarkable performance at the Accor Arena in Paris on the evening of February 25. To celebrate the release of his latest album, "Vulture 1," he hosted a "listening experience"—an evening where all pre-recorded songs were played while the artist danced, leaped, and showcased his art before the euphoric audience. A true spectacle following the success of a particular song, "Carnival," a collaboration with rapper Ty Dolla $ign, a sound that shocked social media and resonated directly with the audience. A look back at a performance that left a lasting impression. He concluded with one of his most renowned songs, "Ni**as in Paris," a great homage to the city where he was performing.



Best actress in a leading role, the nominees : 


SANDRA HÜLLER

Leading the nominations for her numerous roles this year that have captivated both the audience and her career. From "Anatomy of a Fall" to "The Zone of Interest," she has established herself as an indispensable actress of her time. She won the César for Best Actress for her portrayal in "Anatomy of a Fall" by Justine Triet. An intense role that will deeply move every cinema audience where you go to admire her. On February 23 she delivered a compelling performance by announcing herself as the embodiment of a significant and longstanding friendship between France and Germany. A German actress, mastering the French language and forging bonds with a French director, while gracefully representing her state. Her speech, a dialogue between France and Germany through their languages and cultural exchanges. The outcome? "Anatomy of a Fall," nominated 12 times and securing half of those nominations! Our personal favourite. Please, if you appreciate thought-provoking cinema, consider watching it. "Anatomy of a Fall" prompts reflection, leaving many pondering the question of culpability within its narrative. Featuring exceptional performances, notably from our first nominee in this category: Sandra Hüller.


NAVALNY WOMEN

How could we overlook the two most prominent women in politics today? The wife and mother of a deceased political opponent, the fight continues. Many of you may have seen her speak at dawn on the day after her husband's death; Yulia Navalnaya wishes to continue her husband's work. She travelled to Brussels to meet with European leaders and then to meet Joe Biden on February 22. Yulia is not the only Navalny woman fighting; the deceased's mother herself has decided to speak out in numerous videos. She explains that she was forced to bury her son under threats, denouncing the Russian authorities as cruel.


REEM ALSALEM

To conclude this section of the best women in leading roles, we will focus on Ms. Reem Alsalem, who has been appointed as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on alleged rights violations against women, an important role highlighted by recent revelations that Palestinian women and girls are allegedly being subjected to rape and sexual violence in prisons and detention. Coming from Jordan and holding a master's degree in international relations from the American University in Cairo, she has now found herself in the spotlight and side by side with a group of experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. All eyes are thus on her and the role she will play in the fight against sexual violence in this war.



Best actor in a leading role, the nominees : 


UNITED STATES

Let's start with the United States, which stands firm with yet another rejection for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. It is public knowledge that the US has chosen its side in the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, given the significant violence and pleas from the Palestinians, a reconsideration could have been possible. On February 20, the US reiterated its stance and reaffirmed its veto on the Algerian resolution.


SALVADOR

The legislative elections in El Salvador have given the leader success, already well-established and admired by some despite the violence used to reduce gang warfare and influence. His party "Nuevas Ideas" triumphs, with opponents calling for the annulment of the election. Nayib Bukele thus holds sway over El Salvador and its Congress.


RAPHAËL QUENARD

The actor who has been in the spotlight in recent months thanks to his roles in "Yannick" and "Chien de la casse " is acclaimed by critics as one of the finest discoveries of 2023. On Friday, February 23, he won the César for Best Male Revelation. In a moving and powerful speech, he made his words political, addressing the crisis between the French state and farmers, the anger that is no longer silent and is increasingly taking centre stage. An actor who has revealed himself and uses his power of speech to address political issues. He deserved to be among the nominees, best actor in a leading role in an angry agricultural France.



Best duo in geopolitics, the nominees : 


SWEDEN-HUNGARY

Among the best duos in geopolitics is an alliance between Sweden and Hungary. This friendship is forged under the auspices of NATO, with Sweden wishing to join NATO having to first convince Hungary to obtain its approval. The Swedish Prime Minister, during a visit to Budapest last Friday, and Viktor Orban thus form the geopolitical duo to keep an eye on this week.


US-UK

The duo that needs no introduction. Since January 12, 2024, it is the fourth time that the United States and United Kingdom have met and formalised an operation against Houthi tracts in Yemen. The Houthis have been initiating attacks against cargo ships in the Red Sea. This group, supported by Iran and controlling parts of Yemen, has become the number 2 enemy of the US. With the support of other countries such as the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and Bahrain, the US and British armed forces have launched strikes, hitting more than 12 sites currently.


POLAND-EU

The news broke this week; after a visit to Poland, the President of the European Commission announced that after discussions with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the European Union would be ready to unlock €137 billion for Poland. A step by the Polish leader towards Europe that might put an end to the reluctance between the Visegrad Group members and between European institutions. Ursula von der Leyen expressed her admiration for the efforts of the Polish and hopes to initiate a genuine relationship of trust and mutual exchange. A duo that Europe did not expect and could well steal the spotlight from its opponents in this category.



Best speech, the winner : 


JUDITH GODRÈCHE 


It's hard to stand here in front of all of you tonight.

There are so many of you.

Yet, in the end, I suppose it had to happen.

Face to face with each other, looking into each other's eyes.

Many of you have seen me grow up.

It's impressive, it has an impact.

When it comes down to it, I've never known anything other than cinema.

So, to reassure myself, I invented a little lullaby along the way.

"My clasped arms, they're you, all the little girls in the silence,

My neck, my bent neck, it's you, all the children in silence,

My wobbly legs, they're you, the young men who couldn't defend themselves.

My trembling but also smiling mouth is you, my unknown sisters."

After all, I too am a crowd.

A crowd facing you.

A crowd that is looking you in the eye tonight.

It's a funny moment for all of us, isn't it?

A returnee from America has come to kick in the armoured door.

Who would have thought?

For some time now, voices have been unleashed, the idealised image of our fathers has been shattered, power almost seems to be in a state of turmoil, could it be possible for us to look at the truth in the eye?

To take on our responsibilities? To be actors, actresses of a world that is questioning itself?

For some time now, I've been talking and talking, but I can't hear you, or only a little. Where are you? What are you saying? A whisper. Half a word.

"That would be a start," says Little Red Riding Hood.

I know it's scary.

Losing grants.

Losing roles.

Losing your job.

Me too.

I'm scared too.

I quit school at 15, I don't have a high school diploma, nothing.

It would be complicated to be blacklisted from everything.

It wouldn't be fun.

Wandering the streets of Paris in my hamster suit.

Dreaming of myself as an icon of French cinema...

In my rebellion, I thought of the terms we use on set. Silence.

Roll camera.

For me, silence has been rolling for thirty years now.

Yet I can still imagine the incredible melody we could compose together.

Made of truth.

It wouldn't hurt that much. I promise.

Just a scratch on the carcass of our peculiar family.

It's really nothing compared to a punch in the nose.

To a child being assaulted like a city under siege by an all-powerful adult, under a crew's silent gaze.

To a director who, whispering, drags me onto his bed under the pretext of needing to understand who I really am.

Really nothing compared to 45 takes, with two disgusting hands on my 15-year-old breasts.

Cinema is made up of our desire for truth.

Films watch us as much as we watch them.

It's also made out of our need for humanity. No?

So, why?

Why allow this art that we love so much, this art that brings us together, to be used as a cover for the illicit trafficking of young girls?

Because you must know that this loneliness, it's mine but it's also that of thousands in our society.

It's in your hands.

We are in the spotlight.

At the dawn of a new day.

We can decide that men accused of rape should not be allowed to call the shots in cinema.

That, as they say, sets the tone.

We can't ignore the truth because it's not our child, our son, our daughter.

We can't be at such a level of impunity, denial and privilege that morality goes right over our heads.

We have to set an example.

We too.

Don't think I'm telling you about my past, my past which isn't in the past.

My past is also the present of the 2,000 people who sent me their testimonies in four days... It's also the future of all those who haven't yet had the strength to become their own witnesses.

You know, to believe in yourself, you have to be believed.

The world is watching us, we travel with our films, we're lucky to be in a country where it appears that freedom exists.

So, with the same moral strength that we use to create,

Let's have the courage to say out loud what we know deep down.

Let's not embody heroines on screen, only to find ourselves hiding in the woods in real life; let's not embody revolutionary or humanist heroes, only to wake up in the morning knowing that a director has abused a young actress, and say nothing.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to put on my cape tonight and intrude on you a little.

You have to watch out for little girls.

They hit the bottom of the pool, bump and hurt themselves, but bounce right back up.

Little girls are punks who come back disguised as hamsters.

And, to dream of a possible revolution,

They like to repeat this dialogue from Céline and Julie vont en bateau ["Celine and Julie Go Boating", a 1974 film by Jacques Rivette]:

Céline — "Once upon a time."

Julie — "Once upon two times. Once upon three times."

Céline — "Once upon this time, it won't be like that, like all the other times."



This speech comes two weeks after an investigation exposed the abuses of B. Jacquot towards Judith Godrèche herself, an actress who was 14 years old at the time, while he was 40. In a speech where the victim speaks out, in a moment of courage, she delivers these poignant words addressed to the assembly of the César Awards. Encouraging the entirety of French cinema to speak out about these past silences on violence, she will remain in the history of the César Awards with this powerful phrase: "I’m talking but I can’t hear you". She will be the sole nominee in her category, winning this award, the award for courage.


We, esteemed journalists, serve as humble conveyors of news, impartiality governs our proceedings. Thus, the challenging responsibility of selecting a winner in each category falls upon you. 



Wishing you a splendid week ahead :).


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