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An emotional Juliette Binoche received the UniFrance film honor in a ceremony at France’s culture ministry Friday night, where the Oscar-winner said the award was particularly meaningful for her because she has often felt her work was more widely appreciated abroad.
“I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve been on the road a lot, and sometimes I felt I was more loved abroad — because actors are paranoid, I’m afraid — but now being recognized here in my home country, it just makes me so happy,” she said.
French directors Claire Denis, Daniele Thompson and Julia Ducournau were on hand to see the actress accept the trophy — a new winged design from French house Daum for the festival’s 20th anniversary. Paolo Sorrentino, Nabil Ayouch and Brillante Mendoza were also in attendance. The award was presented by UniFrance president Serge Toubiana, general director Isabelle Giordano and culture minister Francoise Nyssen.
Binoche said that film opens the door for love and gives possibilities and hope. “I found desire for a path, a path that would be as true as possible, that would be nearer to others, to you, to foreigners, to everybody,” she said, adding that film is “just about questions.”
Binoche, who balances Hollywood blockbusters like Ghost in the Shell and Godzilla with smaller French films, also sang the praises of the French film industry and expressed support for the country’s specialized film fund that supports the industry.
Speaking with journalists earlier, the actress addressed the #MeToo movement. “I think it’s important that feminism is being talked about and respected, but what I’m surprised about is that men don’t speak very much about it. First of all, because there must be harassment for men as well, but what do they feel about it? Because it’s about them as well. And that is my shock, really, more than women expressing themselves and if they went too far.”
Following a letter signed by Catherine Deneuve and 99 other French women last week accusing the movement of restricting sexual freedom (Deneuve later apologized to victims), Binoche seemed to address the discrepancy.
“You know when you’re being seduced, and there is nothing wrong with it. Harassment is another story, or disrespect. You know when it’s disrespect. And sometimes you have to understand why you felt like that, and you need a second thought in order to understand that it was disrespectful because you are so used to a way of behaving,” she said. “That is something that needs to be helped, and I’d love men to express themselves about it because it is necessary. I think that is what we are missing.”
Binoche joked that she often agrees to projects because
“saying ‘no’ feels too painful, so saying ‘yes’ feels less painful somehow,” but said that she’s always fought to make independent choices.
The Let the Sun Shine In actress just wrapped filming High Life, her second film with director Denis. She said there is no difference between shooting with a male or female director.
“There is a seduction that is happening between actors and directors, but not in a sexual way. The seduction has to do with creating a kind of fire between us and go into the work and see if we need another take. It’s kind of a crucial time during shooting because there is not a lot of time. No, I don’t feel there’s [a difference] — the complicity is not sexual.”
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