“You have to know how to reject roles so as not to end up in a system where women are only seen in a certain way,” French actor Juliette Binoche said on Sunday.
Binoche stood up for women as she answered questions from the press at the San Sebastián Film Festival, where she received the festival’s Donostia Award this year, in tribute to her career.
The star of “The English Patient” is an actress of choice for a slew of author directors, including Krzysztof Kieślowski and Claire Denis.
Denis joined her on stage to talk about “Both Sides of the Blade”, a love triangle film starring Binoche, which will be screened at the festival before the award ceremony.
“Both Sides of the Blade” also stars Vincent Lindon and Grégoire Colin.
“You have to go to the new instead. And you have to jump into the unknown and work outside the macho codes,” Binoche continued.
About her experience working in the US, Binoche, speaking in French, added: “In American cinema it has sometimes happened to me that they call me to be ‘the wife of’ and then say ‘no’ because I’m not interested,” said Binoche who arrived in a casual suit that looked natural with little makeup.
“Getting old in front of the camera is a challenge, it forces you to be honest,” she said.
In addition to working with Denis three times, Binoche has also worked with many great directors, including the late Jean-Luc Godard, who she said was not easy.
She collaborated with Godard on the 1985 film ‘Hail Mary’.
“There was a series of casting I did with him that lasted a long time,” she recalls. “For rehearsals I had to be naked, comb my hair and recite a poem by heart. He didn’t choose me for the part, but he created a new one for me.”
Binoche began acting through theater and trained at the National Academy of Dramatic Arts in Paris.
Her film debut came in 1973 with “Liberty Belle,” followed by numerous roles, including the Godard film.
Her early anglophone credits include “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (Philip Kaufman, 1988) and “Wuthering Heights” (Peter Kosminsky, 1992).
For Kieslowski she starred in “Three Colours: Blue” in 1994. For the film she received her first César Award and the acting prize at the Venice Festival.
She is no stranger to San Sebastián.
With director Jean-Paul Rappeneau she closed the official selection of the San Sebastian Festival in 1995 with “The Horseman on the Roof”.
She returned to San Sebastián in 2018 to present two films: ‘Vision, a Mystic Tale’, a story by Naomi Kawase and ‘High Life’ with Denis.
“I don’t have a general vision of cinema,” she said. “I look for stories that also help me to face something in myself.”