The 'face of French cinema' will receive an honourary award at a festival devoted almost exclusively to film classics.

21 Jun 2016 - 11:56 AM  UPDATED 21 Jun 2016 - 11:56 AM

Legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve will receive the 8th Lumiere Award at France's 2016 Lumiere Grand Lyon Film Festival, a unique event which focuses near totally on film classics.

Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar and Martin Scorsese figure among past recipients of the Lumiere Award. They all travelled to Lyon to pick up the award, granted by Lyon's Institut Lumiere, run by French director Bertrand Tavernier and Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Fremaux.

"This year's Lumiere Award goes to Catherine Deneuve for what she is, has done, says, acts, sings and delights from time immemorial and forever," the Institut Lumiere said Monday in a press statement.

"The face of French cinema," according to Scorsese, Deneuve's career is remarkable for its longevity, great films, the directors she has worked with, and the contrasting facets of a figure which confounds easy categorisation.

Watch Catherine Deneuve movies at SBS On Demand

Deneuve began making films before France's New Wave. She made her debut in Les Collegiennes in 1957, though she broke through with 1964's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Getting on for 60 years later, she starred in Standing Tall, which opened the Cannes Festival last year.

Blessed - and sometimes eclipsed - by her extraordinary beauty, she has worked with some of the world's greatest directors - Roman Polanski, Luis Bunuel, Francois Truffaut, Jacques Demy.

Yet it took decades for her merits as an actress to be fully recognised. Her major prizes - an Oscar nomination (Indochine), a Berlin Silver Bear for outstanding artistic achievement (8 Women) an honorary Cannes Palme d'Or - have come late in her career.

The face of French glamour - Yves St. Laurent dressed her in films for years - she was the face of the Marianne, symbol of the French Republic. Yet, no conservative, she signed the Manifesto of the 343 in 1972, admitting to have practised an illegal abortion, and was one of France's first celebrities to have children out of wedlock.

"A demanding actress and a popular star," and "the muse of grandmasters and lasting supporter of young directors," Deneuve has acted in "more than numerous films" yet "only shoots films she really wants to make," the Institut Lumiere noted in a press statement Monday. She is "strong and fragile," "enigmatic and down-to-earth," it added, capturing her contradictions.

Deneuve will accept the 2016 Lumiere Award on Oct.14 at Lyon's Congress Centre in the presence of numerous international guests which include, among early confirmations, American director (Warriors) and screenwriter (Aliens) Walter Hill, actress Gong Li (Farewell My Concubine, Memoirs of a Geisha) and Jean-Loup Dabadie, co-writer of Claude Sautet's 1971 classic, Max and the Junkmen.

The festival's ongoing profiles of women filmmakers showcases American director Dorothy Arzner, (Wild Party, Dance, Girl, Dance, Christopher Strong), one of the only women to carve out a career for herself, though truncated, in 1930s Hollywood.


Watch Catherine Deneuve movies at SBS on Demand 

(click image below to watch the film in full)



Genealogies of a Crime

Language: French
Director: Raoul Ruiz
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Michel Piccoli, Melvil Poupaud
What's it about?
Set in Vienna not long before the start of the war, the film tells the story of Hermine Helmut von Hug, a child psychologist, who is convinced that her 5-year-old nephew has homicidal tendancies. She decides to study the inevitable evolution of her nephew's criminal inclinations...  

Kings and Queen

M, 2003
Genre: Drama
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Starring: Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric, Catherine Deneuve
What's it about?
Nora (Emmanuelle Devos) is a single mother dealing with her terminally ill father while trying to raise her son, Elias (Valentin Lelong), whose real father was shot under suspicious circumstances. Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), a viola player has lived with Nora for years, but he has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. While he plots his escape from the institution, Nora must decide if she truly loves Ismael, who has developed an affection for her child. 

A Christmas Tale

[country], 2009
Genre: Comedy
Language: French
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
What's it about?
The Vuillard's shared history of physical and mental illness, estrangement, self harm, and loss doesn't lead itself to the idea of a cheerful holiday season. But can a Christmastime reunion, a scheme concocted by three of the youngest family members, finally bring peace their clan?