French cinema legend Catherine Deneuve was all smiles as she glided into the press conference room of the Venice International Film Festival on Wednesday.
Deneuve is being honored in Venice this year with the festival’s Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement.
Naming her this year’s honoree, Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera rattled off the long list of acclaimed creatives Deneuve has worked with, and inspired, from directors Roger Vadim, Jacques Demy, Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut and Roman Polanski to such actors as Marcello Mastroianni and Gérard Depardieu. She is also one of the rare performers to have received an Oscar nomination for a non-English performance, picking up a best actress nom in 1993 for Régis Wargnier’s Indochine.
“It is always very difficult when you have to stop and look back at things as if you made decisions as if you were thinking of the future, but it is never like that,” Deneuve said. “There is a lot of luck, good decisions, sometimes wrong ones. After so many years, you have a list to look at, and you hope that you picked right most of the time.”
Deneuve picked out Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), as well as her work with Truffaut and André Téchiné as the most significant in her career.
Not that the 78-year-old actress has any plans to stop working. She has two new projects on the go, with Léa Domenach’s La tortue currently shooting and the English-language feature Funny Birds, from directors Marco La Via and Hanna Ladoul, set to go into production later this year.
Noting her age, Deneuve said she felt it was “much better to be in Europe than in America if you are an actress and are older… things have changed a lot [around ageism in the film business], but I still think things are better in Europe for that.”
Deneuve is a Venice regular. Her breakthrough film, Belle de jour from director Buñuel, won Venice’s Golden Lion in 1967, and Deneuve took home the Coppa Volpi for best actress at the festival in 1998 for her performance in Nicole Garcia’s Place Vendôme.
Deneuve will receive her lifetime honor at Wednesday’s opening night gala.