Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve news

Reuters Press Agency - Feb.18, 1998

    Catherine Deneuve Urges European Filmmakers To Fight Hollywood

French screen legend Catherine Deneuve said Wednesday European filmmakers should not try to imitate Hollywood and are better off making movies that reflect the continent's variety of national cultures.

Deneuve, the doyenne of French cinema, was awarded a Golden Bear for lifetime achievement at the 48th Berlin Film Festival.

"It is rather regrettable and a shame if Europeans make films like the Americans do," said Deneuve, who spoke only in French during an hourlong news conference.

"French and German filmmakers must resist this pressure," she added to applause. "It can't be all that hard. European countries all have strong national identities. We don't have to dream anything up. We only have to preserve what we have."

Domestic films have doubled their share of the take in the last two years in Germany, Europe's largest market. But the productions increasingly have more in common with Hollywood blockbusters than traditional European auteur films. Similar pressures also are mounting in other countries.

Deneuve said she thought French cinema was in good health even though Hollywood films dominate the market and that critics who complain about too much dialogue in French movies fail to realize that's what makes French films special.

"Many French films are being bought these days for remakes in the United States," she said. "It would of course be better if the United States would just buy the French originals."

Deneuve said she wanted to campaign on behalf of French films. She said French filmmakers were doing a good job but that distributors were not.

"It is a question of survival of the cinema," she said. "I would certainly like to get involved in that."

The 54-year-old Deneuve, who has starred in 68 feature films over the past 38 years, acknowledged that she hated the moniker "ice maiden" that was applied to her early in her career.
"It hurt me at first," said Deneuve, who is best known for "Vice and Virtue" (1963), "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (1964), "Repulsion" (1965) and "Belle de Jour" (1967), in which she played a bourgeoise dabbling as a call girl.
"I thought it was a considerably negative thing. But after a while, I thought it might be accurate and that it suited me. I began to think it was right on."

Deneuve moved to Hollywood in 1969. But after a dozen films in six years that paled in comparison to her earlier work, she returned to France. She later won an Academy Award nomination for the 1992 film "Indochine."

Deneuve said she has no plans to slow down and felt uncomfortable that she was being given a lifetime achievement award before her career had even begun to wind down.

"I find the term 'lifetime achievement' a bit difficult," she said. "I don't like the idea of taking stock. The tribute this evening doesn't mean it's the end of my career. I enjoy acting. It is a rich and full life, a privileged existence."

Deneuve, whom French actor Gerard Depardieu once called "The man I would like to be," said roles for women have changed considerably since her early films, a development that reflects changes in society.
"Twenty years ago the role of the woman in film was more ravishing or flirtatious," she said. "Now the roles are of working women having more responsibility. Superficially, it may appear that the women now are stronger, but they are not stronger, only more masculine."

The Berlinale is showcasing 13 of her films during the festival, which runs through Feb. 22. She won a Silver Bear for Best Actress in Berlin in 1965 for "Repulsion." But Deneuve said she has no plans to see any of the screenings.
"I wouldn't like to see my old films," she said. "I am not trying to flee. I hardly have time to see the new films I want to see. I don't have two hours to spare to see my old films."


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