Cannes best actress Binoche is rare French Hollywood star

23rd May 2010, Comments 0 comments

France's Juliette Binoche, the 46-year-old French star who Sunday won the Cannes best actress award, is one of the country's rare actors to have made it in Hollywood.

She broke onto the international scene aged 37 when she won a 1997 Oscar as best supporting actress for her role as a nurse in Anthony Minghella's "English Patient".

Images of Binoche, dressed in a black shirt and pants, are all over this year's festival, which put her picture on the official festival poster, armed with a paintbrush scrawling the letters "Cannes" in lights.

She scooped the Cannes prize for her role in "Certified Copy", where she plays an unhappy art-gallery owner in Italy who flirts with an English writer in a tortuous tete-a-tete about love and marriage.

Teary-eyed Binoche hailed the director, Iranian Abbas Kiarostami, who is regarded as one of the world's finest film-makers but whose work is little shown in his native country due to censorship by its hardline Islamic leaders.

"The camera revealed me in my femininity, my complexity," Binoche said of Kiarostami's quiet film about a mysterious love affair in Italy -- his first shot outside Iran.

While the movie sees the pair confront the harsh realities and illusions of marriage, Binoche said: "I think one day I'll get married despite everything."

She also brandished a sign with the name of Jafar Panahi, the Iranian film-maker in jail in Tehran since March, accused of planning a film against the Islamic regime.

"I hope he will be here next year," she said.

Binoche visited Iran to deepen her knowledge of the country before shooting "Certified Copy," and while at Cannes broke into tears on learning Panahi had begun a hunger strike.

"When you work with someone you have to know them," Binoche said at the time. "I would like to get to know Iran, the Iranian way of life, its history and philosophy."

"Iranians have come to the West for years, it's about time Westerners came to Iran and got to know it," she added.

Binoche, who began her acting career on the stage, is always up for new challenges and in 2008 took to the boards in London in a new dance show she co-directed and performed with top British choreographer Akram Khan.

Last year she veered into yet new directions, appearing in a modern dance work in New York and mounting an exhibition of sketches and drawings.

"I'm still an actress," she told AFP in an interview at the time in which she described her creative forays outside of the acting world as a "leap into the unknown."

"I always want to explore life differently, to dare to try something new," she said.

Binoche has a long list of other critical successes to her name, including performances in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," "Damage" and the film "Blue" from the acclaimed Krzysztof Kieslowski "Three Colors" trilogy.

© 2010 AFP

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