French star spurs on aspiring women actresses at Yangon film festival

By AFP

YANGON — Award-winning French actress Isabelle Huppert urged Myanmar women wanting to make it in the world of cinema to go for it, as she added star power to Yangon’s MEMORY! film festival.

The Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee took to the red carpet at Friday’s opening night held at the city’s recently-restored and oldest cinema.

Bats wheeled round the downtown, colonial-era theatre as Huppert’s 1995 movie “La Ceremonie” kicked off the 10-day event.

Huppert, whose more than 120 films include “Elle” and “The Piano Teacher”, said she was unfazed when a power cut, a common occurrence in the city, briefly interrupted the movie.

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“They warned me these things might happen,” she told AFP in an exclusive interview Saturday.

The actress, who has eight of her films showing at the festival, described how all her movies speak about the “feminine condition” and what it means to be a woman fighting to survive.

“I would say I’ve always been a feminist without knowing it,” she said, urging Myanmar women wanting to get into cinema to go ahead and believe in themselves.

“You have to overcome so many obstacles in life that you mustn’t create them yourself.”

This is the seventh edition of the MEMORY! film festival, which this year boasts some 70 movies in its bid to bring worldwide and regional cinema to Myanmar’s public.

As the country gears up to celebrate a century of filmmaking next year, the event also features screenings of painstakingly-restored Myanmar classics.

Huppert preferred not to dwell on the controversy shaking the French film industry over fresh allegations of abuse against French-Polish director Roman Polanski, but said she thinks people should not boycott his latest movie.

A French photographer became the latest woman to accuse the 86-year-old of rape days before his award-winning movie, “An Officer and a Spy”, opened in French cinemas.

Polanski has fiercely denied the accusations and has threatened to sue.

Asked what France’s film industry could do to treat women better, Huppert said it should start by giving them equal wages.

“It’s the same in every field. Women have always suffered discrimination.”

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