Kelly Reichardt’s drama “Night Moves” about three environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam won the top prize late Saturday at France’s Deauville Film Festival, which celebrates American movies.

The drama, starring Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg and Peter Sarsgaard, is set in alternative farming communities in Oregon, with the trio’s plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam yielding unexpected consequences.

Critics have hailed Reichardt’s latest work and latest collaboration with co-writer Jon Raymond for exploring the tension between idealism and activism and the difficulties that come in negotiating between the two.

“It’s a film that’s masterful from beginning to end, that poses a topical problem,” said Loui Doillon, a member of the jury headed by French actor Vincent Lindon. “What is this going to accomplish? Can we really change things?”

Reichardt, whose earlier works with Raymond have made her one of the most critically acclaimed independent filmmakers in the United States, was not at the ceremony, en route to the Toronto Film Festival, where the film is due to have its north American premiere on Sunday.

Deauville’s jury prize went to Jeffrey C. Chandor’s “All is Lost” starring Robert Redford and to Sam Fleischner’s “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”.

In “All is Lost”, Redford plays a sailor who finds himself staring his mortality in the face in the middle of the Indian Ocean after his boat collides with a shipping container.