Juliette Binoche

After working in French cinema for the past 30 years, for such masters as Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, André Téchiné, Leos Carax, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Abbas Kiarostami, Claire Denis and Olivier Assayas, Juliette Binoche will be the first French actress to receive the Golden Icon Award for her acting career at the 16th Zurich Film Festival.

“In the year that France is our guest country, it’s a great pleasure to honor a true icon of French cinema,” says Artistic Director Christian Jungen, “Binoche is an extremely versatile actress who chooses her roles with great care and embodies her characters with such depth, both in dramas and comedies.”

Binoche will present her most recent movie La Bonne Épouse by Martin Provost in Zurich, which will be released in cinemas on 29 October in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. The moral comedy sees her embody a bourgeois school principal confronted with budding feminism on the eve of the 1968 revolution. Binoche will also discuss her career during a ZFF Masters session to be held in Zurich on October 1.

“I am very happy to come to the ZFF in this year that is so special for the world and for the cinema. It’s great that the Zurich Film Festival exists and can defend the cinema and the various international cultures represented through the films it presents to its audience. I’m very touched to be honored with the Golden Icon Award, but above all it’s the films and the directors who made them that will be honored through me”, says Binoche, and adds: “I was impressed by the dynamism of the festival when I came in 2014 to meet the public. Meeting people who are passionate about other people and cultures has always made me move forward, because with each new film that’s what determines me: meeting new worlds and through the characters I embody allow audiences from all over the world to discover new universes in turn. Thanks to the Zurich Festival and see you soon!”

Binoche was born into a family of artists and performed in theatre productions as a child. She played her first important role in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1984 drama Je vous salue Marie. Her breakthrough came when she appeared in André Téchiné’s Rendez-Vous. After successfully breaking onto the Hollywood scene early on in her career when she performed in Philip Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, she went on to win an Academy Award for her role as a nurse in the 1997 romantic drama The English Patient. This was followed by a further Academy Award nomination in 2001 for her role in Chocolat. She does, however, not say yes to everything and, although she could have starred in one Hollywood blockbuster after another, she remained true to her roots in European auteur cinema to become a globally renowned ambassador for French auteur cinema. Binoche is the only person in the world to have been declared Best Actress at Cannes, Venice and Berlin for Copie Conforme (Certified Copy), The English Patient and Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu) respectively.

Former recipients of the Golden Icon Award are amongst others Cate Blanchett, Glenn Close, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Douglas, Richard Gere and Sean Penn.

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