Catherine Deneuve arrives for Febiofest closing

The actress had canceled an appearance at the opening due to a health issue

French actress Catherine Deneuve finally arrived at Febiofest, after having to cancel her appearance at the opening ceremony. She received the Kristián Award for her life’s work at the March 22 closing ceremony of the festival and appeared on the red carpet at CineStar Anděl.

She arrived a day earlier and introduced a screening of the 2008 French film The Christmas Tale, which was a part of the retrospective of films by Arnaud Desplechin.

During the festival, the Kristián Award, which is named for a 1939 Czech film, was also given to Czech cinema legend Daniela Kolářová, the directors Arnaud Desplechin and Leos Carax, and French singer and actor Charles Aznavour.

The Grand Prix in the festival’s New Europe went to the French film Custody (Střídavá péče / Jusqu'à la garde), a social drama about an abusive father who uses his young son to manipulate his frightened ex-wife.

Deneuve, who is now 74, spoke to the press about her career. She said she does not intend to write a memoir. “People expect more than memoirs about your work, They expect your life. For some people it is fine, for me, it is very private, very personal,” she said.


Deneuve was in the news recently for signing a letter critical of the #metoo movement. She later clarified the comments. “I answered one newspaper … but I didn’t intend to answer any question after that,” she said, adding that with the internet it is easy for comments to misconstrued. “You cannot master what you say. Things can be taken out of context. I don’t want to discuss anything but pictures,” she said.

She feels that she did not choose acting. She started when she was very young, taking a role while she was on her school holidays as a teenager in 1957. “And then someone saw me in the film and asked me to do tests for another film, and that is how I was involved. … I was not sure until I met Jacques Demy for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg [in 1964] that I wanted to become really an actress,” she said.

But if she had not been an actress, looking back she might have gone into archaeology or architecture, which she says he always loved.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is her favorite film, even though it was one of her first. “It was like an opera. We got to work with music all the time, which is very, very special. … All the film was sung. It was a very special atmosphere and something I will never forget,” she said.

Deneuve enjoys working now more than she did years ago because she knows more about filming, and has particular people she is used to working with. “I would not say I was happier on the set 40 years ago,” she said.

“One of my favorite directors today is André Téchiné, with whom I am going to start a new film. … I have made eight films with him,” she said.

“There are some directors whom I really loved that are not here anymore. If life had been different I would have done more films with Jacques Demy or François Truffaut.”

One of her two films with Truffaut, The Last Metro, was a big success, and the other, Mississippi Mermaid, was not. “It is the public’s choice, it is not my choice. … I suppose The Last Metro was a bigger story that spoke more to people,” she said.

“It is a good thing you cannot explain success or why it doesn’t work, or otherwise at the beginning, a lot of things wouldn’t be made,” she added.

She also commented on her work with Spanish director Luis Buñuel, saying it was more interesting to work in Spain on Tristana in 1970 than on Belle de Jour, which was shot in France in 1967. “He hadn’t been back in Spain since he shot Viridiana [in 1961]. So he was in a very different mood,” she said.

Buñuel as a director does not explain too much. “There are not so many ways to do a scene with him. It was very interesting to be involved in a project with him.”

She also said she has no intention of directing herself. “I am glad that not all actresses direct,” she said, adding that there are already too many films in France and not enough room for everyone to try directing.

On the other hand, she has always been interested in the technical progress of cinema. “[It allows] people to do films in an easier way, people with less money. It is interesting because the film is something very expensive,” she said. This change can lead to more artists and fewer technicians making new films. “I am interested in seeing where it is going. I am a curious person.”

Her family has connections to the theater, but she has never been interested in appearing on the stage. “I have too much stage fright. And when I see today my friends in the theater, the state in which they are after playing on stage is something that scares me so much,” she said.

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