TONIE MARSHALL, a French-American film maker and actress, and the only female director to win a Cesar award, France equivalent of the Oscars, died in Paris. She was 68.

France's Equalities Minister, which oversees matters of gender equality, confirmed the death but gave no further details, The Associated Press reported.

Ms. Marshall was not well known outside of France, but at home she was a prominent woman in the male dominated French film industry. Though she resisted being labeled as a feminist, she confronted sexism head-on in her later movies.

She became a vocal supporter of the French #MeToo movement and helped open up the industry to more women.

After 30 years as an actress and 10 as a director, Ms. Marshall created a sensation in the 1990 with her movie ''Venus Beauty Institute,'' about three women who work in beauty salon and their search for love and happiness.

It swept the top three Cesar awards - for best film, best director and best original screenplay [by Ms. Marshall] - and one of its protagonists, Audrey Tautou, won the Cesar for the most promising young actress.

Ms. Marshall researched the film by frequenting her local beauty salon, watching the interplay of clients and employees and listening to their dialogue.

One day, a woman came in, removed her top and bra and sat there naked in what Ms. Marshall saw as display of power and not exhibitionism; the scene is replicated in the movie.

Her cinematic style was deeply influenced by the director Jacques Demy, who most famously directed ''The Umbrellas of Cherbourg'' [1964] and ''The Young Girls of Rochefort'' [1967].

But in ''Venus Beauty Institute,'' Ms. Marshall paid direct homage to another French film that examined love from a woman's point of view ''Belle de Jour'' [1967] directed by Luis Bunuel and starring Catherine Deneuve.

Ms. Marshall was especially enthralled with a famous scene in ''Belle de Jour'' in which Ms. Deneuve, playing a bourgeoise wife is secretly a prostitute, is given a small, lacquered box by a client. She opens and closes it, without the audience seeing what is inside.

One important thing she learned surprised her, she said, was that regardless of how qualified a woman are to do the top job, they are often overcome with self-doubt and decline to become No.1, preferring to be No. 2 or 3.

''And Yet,'' she said ''there are men without their skills or qualifications who just click their fingers, say, 'I want it, I want it,' and they get ahead.

The World Students Society thanks author Katharine Q. Seelye.


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