MAGAZINE

Juliette Binoche creating 'French Berlinale' as festival

Oscar-winning French actress Juliette Binoche has long been a regular at the world's leading film festivals, in a career stretching back to the 1980s.

Now, after appearing in more than 70 films, a feat that has helped turn her into one of cinema's most recognized actresses, the 54-year-old Binoche is to head up the jury at next month's Berlin Film Festival.

Indeed, the 69th festival is shaping up to be "a French Berlinale," according to festival director Dieter Kosslick, with three French films in the Berlinale's main section and France a co-production nation for a slew of other movies in the festival.

British actress Charolotte Rampling, who has also starred in numerous French-language movies, is to be awarded a lifetime achievement award at the Berlinale, which is one of the world's top film festivals.

The daughter of a sculptor/theater director and an actress, Binoche described being asked to head up this year's Berlinale jury as a "tremendous honour.

"I'm looking forward to this special rendezvous with the entire jury and will embrace my task with joy and care," she said.

Regularly complimented for her charm, as well as for successfully straddling both English and French language cinema, Binoche has appeared in such movie hits as "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," "Clouds of Sils Maria" and "Tree Colours Blue."

In 2000, she was nominated for an Oscar for best actress for her role in "Chocolat" in which she starred alongside Johnny Depp.

Three years later, she won an Academy Award for best supporting actress as a French-Canadian nurse in Anthony Minghella's critically acclaimed "The English Patient."

The mother of two children, Binoche is also the first European actress to have won the best actress award at the world's top film festivals in Berlin, Cannes and Venice.

But Binoche's acting career has not been confined to the big screen. She has also appeared on stage in major theatre roles, including on Broadway, as well as part of a modern dance production.

In addition to acting, Binoche has carved out a role on the political stage regularly standing up for migrant rights and backing the Reporters Without Borders group.

Paris-based, Binoche shot to fame in the cinema world more than 30 years ago when she appeared in movies by two stars of French film - Jean-Luc Godard and Andre Techine.

Somewhat ironically, the 75-year-old Techine's latest film, "L'adieu a la nuit" ("Farewell to the Night") is also to be screened at this year's Berlinale.

However, it is not part of the main competition and is consequently not in the running for one of the festival's prestigious awards.

Techine's film also stars another icon of French cinema, Catherine Deneuve.

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