PARIS - Canada's wartorn family drama "Incendies" is in the running for the best foreign film award at the French equivalent of the Oscars.

Denis Villeneuve's widely acclaimed story of Montreal twins who uncover their mother's dark past has been nominated for a Cesar Award.

It's up against Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive," Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan," Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech," The Dardenne Brothers' "The Kid on a Bike," Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" and Golden Globe winner Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation."

''I'm really surprised by this nomination because the body of films in 2011 was pretty impressive,'' Villeneuve told The Canadian Press.

''I'm savouring it because, honestly, the competition is very strong and I harbour no hope of winning. But being nominated is a compliment.''

France's Academy of Cinematic Arts and Techniques presented nominations for the 37th Cesar Awards ceremony on Friday.

British actress Kate Winslet, who stars in Roman Polanski's clashing-couples film "Carnage," will receive an honorary Cesar at the ceremony on Feb. 24.

Child-protection drama "Polisse" led with 13 nominations, while the silent, black-and-white film "The Artist" garnered 11.

Earlier this month, "Incendies" nabbed a Lumiere Award for best foreign film in the French language.

The Lumieres are considered France's counterpart to the Golden Globes, which are voted on by foreign press correspondents.

"Incendies" is also in the running for a British Academy Film Award for best film not in the English language. The so-called BAFTAs will be handed out Feb. 12.

It was up for an Oscar last year in the best foreign language category.

France's National Cinematic Center has said French movie theatres sold 211 million tickets last year — a 45-year high, and a four-per-cent increase from 2010.

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