Cannes honours Jodie Foster

Palme d’Or for one of Festival’s most ardent fans

by Richard Mowe

Jodie Foster has been expressing her views on parity in the film industry, for example at the 2016 Festival de Cannes during Women in Motion
Jodie Foster has been expressing her views on parity in the film industry, for example at the 2016 Festival de Cannes during Women in Motion Photo: Festival de Cannes

As the organisers of the Cannes Film Festival limber up for tomorrow’s (3 June) delayed announcement of the official selection it has just been revealed today that Jodie Foster will receive an honorary Palme d’Or during the opening ceremony on 6 July.

She follows in the wake of such luminaries as Jeanne Moreau, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jane Fonda, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Manoel de Oliveira, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Agnès Varda and Alain Delon.

Foster first attended the Festival in 1976 for the world premiere of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver which received the ultimate accolade of the Palme d’Or. She was only 13 at the time.

Jodie Foster: "When I was young I wanted to be a director, but I didn't know that I would be able to.”
Jodie Foster: "When I was young I wanted to be a director, but I didn't know that I would be able to.” Photo: Richard Mowe

“Although I had already directed before, my first time on the Croisette was a defining moment for me. Showcasing one of my films here has always been a dream of mine. I am flattered that Cannes thought of me and I am very honoured to be able to share a few words of wisdom or tell an adventure or two with a new generation of filmmakers,” said an overjoyed Foster.

“In fact, I have had several opportunities to fulfil my dream,” added Foster. “Cannes is a film festival by auteur-filmakers who honour artists. And I greatly appreciate that.”

Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux said: “Jodie never ceases to reinvent herself. She questions with her piercing gaze, learns from others, and is willing to step back from her beliefs in order to forge new morals — do what is fair.”

Foster has been a trusted friend of the Festival de Cannes for more than four decades – seven of her films, whether as an actress or a director, have been showcased on the Croisette.

She is also a devoted cinephile, both knowledgeable and passionate. This can be seen in her active contribution to the restoration of the extremely personal work of Dorothy Arzner, one of the few directors at the heart of Hollywood studios who has filmed brave women exposed to the struggles surrounding class and gender.

This commitment matches Foster’s own. Regularly and for some time now, the Francophile artist has been expressing her views on parity in the film industry, for example at the 2016 Festival de Cannes during Women in Motion.

Once asked what would 13‑year‑old Jodie think of the present Jodie as a director she replied: "I would be really shocked that I was in the same profession for the last 40‑some years — I can't quite believe it. When I was young I wanted to be a director, but I didn't know that I would be able to. I didn't know any women directors; I knew [about] the European ones. I knew about Lina Wertmuller and Margarethe von Trotta — a few European women directors, but that was it. So I assumed I wouldn't be able to direct. I thought I'd probably just write."

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