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Any good movie is art: film icon

The 56-year-old French actress Isabelle Huppert (pictured above) is perennially glamorous, enjoying an international reputation as one of her culture's most iconic and celebrated performers.

During a 30-year acting career, Huppert has made 70 films, twice winning the Best Actress Award at Cannes for Claude Chabrol's "Violette Noziere" in 1978 and Michael Haneke's "The Piano Teacher" in 2001.

On screen, the talented actress has portrayed women of every description, depicting them in a variety of neurotic, glacial, silent, secretive and enigmatic roles and has worked with some of the world's most prominent directors.

She was invited to be president of the jury at this year's 62nd Cannes Film Festival, only the fourth woman to head the panel in the event's six decades. The experience, in her words, made her feel happy and proud.

Her latest visit to China was for the 12th Shanghai International Film Festival last month that featured a retrospective of her movies, including "The Piano Teacher" and "The Sea Wall."

It was her second trip to Shanghai after her initial tour in 1992. Her schedule included visiting Shanghai World Financial Center and enjoying local restaurants.

A photographic exhibition in tribute to Huppert's 30 years in film was held in Beijing.

In this "Woman of Many Faces" show, about 120 photos and video portraits of the star were displayed, highlighting the many different facets of her charm.

Q: What's your secret to acting and what is your favorite character of those you have portrayed on screen?

A: My secret to acting is quite simple: I always have a good relationship with the directors. I read the script very carefully, understand the character and gradually the character becomes me.

I try to feel the character's contradiction and make my performance real and natural. I don't have "a" favorite character. I like all the characters, particularly the piano teacher.

Q: What kind of new character would you like to attempt?

A: I've just finished a comedy called "Copacabana." I had done comedy already, but in this picture I got a very nice character who is generous, optimistic and very different from my previous dark and cold characters. The movie will be released early next year.

Q: How much do you know about Chinese cinema and filmmakers?

A: There are many talented Chinese directors such as Jia Zhangke, Wang Xiaoshuai, Tsai Ming-liang and Hou Hsiao-hsien. French people like their movies very much. For me, I was impressed by Jia's "Still Life" and Wang's "Beijing Bicycle."

Q: Is there a possibility that you may work with Chinese directors?

A: Yes, I would love to. Actually, there is something under discussion right now but I can't give details.

Q: Chinese cinema is flourishing these days, but it also meets challenges from Hollywood blockbusters. What's your expectation for the future of Chinese cinema? Do you have any suggestions for Chinese filmmakers?

A: The best cinema is a cinema where everybody can express themselves well. In my eyes, cinema is motivated by art. Any good movie is art to me. However, not all movies are addressed to everybody. They have certain audiences and they don't need to be "global." I think great cinema embodies multiple colors and experiences. The director expresses the depth of his soul without limits.

Q: Would you like to be president of the jury at the Shanghai International Film Festival?

A: Why not? I find it an interesting rule that many filmmakers who chair the Cannes jury will also be the jury president of Shanghai International Film Festival, such as Wang Kar-wai and Luc Besson.

Q: What do you do in your leisure time?

A: I like to travel a lot. It gives me the best chance to see different people and places. I'm never bored with traveling. Also I like to see movies and I like to read.

Q: What's your advice for young actresses who hope to be as good as you are?

A: Everyone is different and has her own way to success. We all go through the same pattern of excitement and disappointment. Cinema is very easy to me. If there is some advice for others, just be patient.

Q: What are your impressions of Shanghai?

A: I first came in 1992. I like Shanghai food, wonderful food, and I have put on so much weight.


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