SINGAPORE (AFP) – The French film industry remains relevant in the face of Hollywood dominance as it provides space for creative projects that are not commercially viable, Oscar winner Juliette Binoche said Friday.
“The power of our films is the variety of the films we have in France,” said Binoche, who picked up an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her 1996 turn as a World War II nurse in The English Patient.
“While it doesn’t work always as a commercial industry compared to America… the creative side is very alive and that’s why a lot of directors from different countries can come to France to shoot films,” the veteran French actress told reporters in Singapore.
“The content of the film, through the script, the talent of the director, and the actors attached, it counts a lot,” she added.
“There is always a way to put films together (in France) even though you have a very low budget.”
Binoche, 50, is in the Southeast Asian city-state as part of the Singapore International Film Festival.
“Clouds of Sils Maria”, directed by France’s Olivier Assayas and in which Binoche stars with Kristen Stewart, is being screened at the festival.
Binoche plays Maria, a “grande dame” international film star with a complex, sexually charged relationship with her personal assistant (Stewart).
They hole up in a chalet in the Swiss Alps so Maria can prepare for a new theatre role which has strong parallels to her own life and career, leading to a fateful confrontation between the two women.
It was one of the contenders for this year’s top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, which was eventually handed to the Turkish film Winter Sleep.
Binoche said Stewart, the megastar of the Twilight films, surprised her with her ability to perform with little rehearsal.
“I could really feel it was not her cup of tea. She doesn’t like rehearsing, it isn’t her method,” said Binoche.
“She would read the lines in the morning, and she would know it. I am not like that.”
The prolific stage and screen actress said she had no intentions of slowing down even as age catches up with her.
Binoche returns to the London stage next March, taking a starring role in a new adaptation of the Greek tragedy Antigone at the Barbican centre.
Her character, Antigone, the daughter of mythical Greek king Oedipus, is 18 years old in the play, the mother-of-two said.
“I don’t feel time when I work… actors have to forget themselves when they are in front of the camera,” Binoche said.
“It’s not about them, it’s about what they have to give beyond themselves, what’s invisible.”