More than 50 years after she made her Venice debut as the star of Luis Buñuel’s 1967 classic Belle du Jour, Catherine Deneuve is being feted by the festival with its Golden Lion for Career Achievement.
“It feels like yesterday. It was a very important festival for me,” Deneuve told a packed press conference as she cast her mind back to her attendance in 1967.
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The actress took to the stage wearing a Ukrainian flag but said she did not want to make a verbal statement about the war in Ukraine.
“I’m very aware like a lot of people and that was why I wanted to wear it for the press conference, but I don’t want to express myself because it’s worse and worse. My mind and my spirit, [is with them] every day but I don’t have any declarations to make.”
The actress said she found it hard to take stock of her career.
“It’s always difficult to stop, to look at things as if you had decided everything, that it was a decision thinking of the future but it’s never like that,” she said.
“There’s a lot of luck, good encounters, and good decisions, and sometimes bad, or if not bad, wrong. Not everything belongs to the actors, we’re only a part of a film. Sometimes you take good decisions, but the result is not what it is supposed to be.”
Quizzed on what had been the biggest challenges of her career, Deneuve likened the act of embarking on a film to setting off on a walk in the mountains.
“The difficulties emerge when we start filming. It’s a bit like when you walk for a long time along a mountain road, on a trail that you decided to walk and then you hit a steep slope. It’s only afterwards that you see the hardships.”
Talking about the directors, who had particularly marked her career she cited Jacques Demy, who gave the actress her first major role in The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, Francois Truffaut and André Téchiné.
The actress revealed she had just come off the set of a “light-hearted” French drama about the relationship between late French president Jacques Chirac and his wife Bernadette, and would soon be headed to Belgium for the shoot of English-language drama Funny Birds.
The New Jersey-set drama by L.A.-based French filmmaking duo Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via revolves around three generations of women from the same family who are thrown together on a rural chicken farm by tragic circumstances.
“I don’t have time to look backwards, because I’m looking at my present, and moving forward,” she said.
Quizzed on the longevity of her career, Deneuve suggested that it was easier for an actress to continue working in Europe than in Hollywood.
“It’s much better to be in Europe than in America. It’s a little better now, but in the 50s, after 35, an actress was more than mature so you were going to other parts. But the light was different, and the way of making movies was different. It’s changed but it’s still better in Europe for that.”
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