CULTURE

Festival awards actress of the ‘inner voice’

The celebrated French star Isabelle Huppert gave a press conference earlier this week at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival after receiving an honorary Golden Alexander from organizers for her contribution to cinema. Composed, poised and crystal clear on the significance of her life’s work, Huppert is an intellectual not to be taken lightly. «Isabelle Huppert is tied in with an entire period of French cinema, a cinema that has left a legacy and continues to be with us today,» said festival board President Theo Angelopoulos by way of introduction of an actress who has not only reached star status, but is also famous for the depth with which she approaches her work. Acting with meaning «I couldn’t imagine doing what I do without having thoughts on it, thinking about it, giving it meaning. And I hope that there is still a meaning in doing films, in doing cinema, and that we can consider it a commitment and a form of expression that is deeply personal. This is what I research so I can cross paths with filmmakers that have a vision.» With a string of extremely challenging and thought-provoking roles to her resume and collaborations with leading directors, such as Claude Chabrol, the Taviani brothers, Michael Cimino, Andrzej Wajda and Hal Hartley as well as more recently with Michael Haneke in the award-winning «La Pianiste,» which won her an award at Cannes, she explains that her principal criterion for choosing roles is the director. «Of course, with first-time directors, we don’t have anything to measure them by so then I look at the script, at the character. But, if I’m asked to film again with Haneke or Chabrol, I don’t need to spend any time looking at the scenario.» Her latest film, «Les Soeurs Fachees,» which was screened in Thessaloniki in its international premiere and will appear at mainstream Greek movie theaters during the holidays, is one such venture with a first-time director, Alexandra Leclere. Challenging roles Huppert is known for selecting challenging roles across the board, be it in the theater or in cinema. She has not, however, appeared in a play for some two years, though she remembers her experiences in Sarah Kane’s incisive contemporary drama «4:48 Psychosis» (with which she is due to tour the States next year) and the title role in «Medea» as being among her most challenging, while she also took time off from rehearsals for a Paris production of Ibsen’s «Hedda Gabler» to be at the festival. In films, she is most known for her award-winning performance in «La Pianiste,» while another 2004 film, «Ma Mere,» by Christophe Honore, also has her cast as a dominating, troubled older woman (a mother in this case, rather than a teacher). «Cinema has been changing, evolving, ever since it has existed. And it is true that it is exploring intimacy a lot more than before and it goes a lot further, and is often a lot more interesting. It is increasingly an instrument of truth. The actor has to explore this inner voice. It is a voice discovered by actors from Montgomery Cliff through Robert DeNiro.» «There are many actors who are a lot more applied to their style of acting. We are the heirs of this,» explains Huppert. The celebrated actress also admitted that she finds the roles she wants in Europe and has not considered pursuing a more lucrative career in Hollywood. «I do more or else what I want to do. I find that I come across many engaging roles in Europe. I have frequently met American actresses who envy European actresses for the capacity of European cinema to paint female characters that are a lot more interesting than the female roles encountered in American cinema.»