Deauville Film Festival Closes With Career Tribute to Patricia Clarkson

Patricial Clarkson

"We’ve just reached the wall, we’ve reached the limit. We can no longer not have women in front of the camera and behind the camera," said the Emmy-winning actress.

Patricia Clarkson, who took home the best actress prize at the Deauville Film Festival over a decade ago, returned to close this year's festival with a career tribute.

In her speech, she thanked the festival for that best actress trophy in 2002 for The Safety of Objects.

Calling it a “a very well-timed award,” the Emmy winner and Oscar nominee said it helped her remain confident in her sometimes unusual choices.

“As a younger actress I kept that honor as a kind of talisman, as a kind of faith - faith in the kind of films I have been drawn to and the glorious people with whom I’ve done them,” she said.

“And now I stand before you as a 55-year-old actress in a very sheer dress,” she added, to the delight of the audience. “I figured since you were honoring my body of work I would dress accordingly.”

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Clarkson discussed the pressure on aging actresses in the industry.

“We get better as we age in this business,” she said. She noted that while it remains a “very white male business,” the tide is changing for women and people of color.

“The conversation has now entered the zeitgeist. It is talked about everywhere in the theater and the cinema, how embarrassing it is that we have so few women behind the camera,” she said. “We’ve just reached the wall, we’ve reached the limit. We can no longer not have women in front of the camera and behind the camera. It’s not advantageous to anyone anymore not having more female voices present.”

Clarkson cites her latest film, Learning to Drive, as an example of how the business is changing. The film opened with a $16,504 per screen average when it was released Aug. 21 and has grossed $1.6 million overall.

“It’s doing really, really well at the box office for a small film. It is 1000 percent a female-driven film, so it does work.”

She credits young producers who are willing to take these types of risks, citing Gabriel and Daniel Hammond of upstart production and distribution company Broadgreen.

“I look at these young guys and the first film they chose to make was [Learning to Drive], directed by a woman, starring a woman, written by a woman, edited by a woman. We need more people like Gabriel and Daniel,” she said.

Clarkson herself is taking a bit of a break, after just having finished Elephant Man on Broadway and prepping for Maze Runner 3 in the spring.

In the meantime, she’s also continuing to work on bringing the story of Talullah Bankhead to the big screen as her first producing project.

While her “cool factor just went through the roof” after a recent appearance on an episode of Broad City, she’s not looking for another series like the Emmy-winning Six Feet Under. “I like my freedom. I don’t like being pinned down, and I like actually not knowing what’s next."