Steve McQueen And Isabelle Huppert Honored At The Dublin International Film Festival

Steve McQueen And Isabelle Huppert Honored At The Dublin International Film Festival

Prior to making headlines the next day after a short-lived health scare that required a brief stay in hospital, Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins arrived at Dublin’s Complex arts center last Wednesday to present the Dublin film festival’s highest honor to Steve McQueen. Introduced in 2007 and named the Volta Award, after the first commercial cinema set up in Dublin in 1909 by writer James Joyce, its previous recipients include Daniel Day Lewis, Claudia Cardinale and Al Pacino. The famously serious director was in high spirits, enthusing that “festivals are about passion, a passion for film.” “There’s always a buzz, isn’t there?” he continued. “[As you] go to the next picture, the next film, you tend to give people tips and say, ‘Oh, you’ve got to see this, you’ve got to see that…’”

Related Stories

McQueen was in and out of the festival, flying home the same night, fueling speculation that the director has a Cannes premiere in mind for his new film Blitz, a wartime drama set in London and starring Saoirse Ronan. Also making a brief appearance was French acting legend Isabelle Huppert, who returned to Paris for the opening on Tuesday night of Jean Racine’s Bérénice, in which she stars for renowned Italian director Romeo Castellucci.

Isabelle Hupper. Photo courtesy of DIFF

Huppert, a mere 20 minutes late for her own event, was interviewed on stage by writer/actor Clare Dunne. Standing in for Olwen Fouéré, who couldn’t attend due to illness, Dunne was in an interesting match for the formidable French icon. Details of her career were sketchy but understandable given that Huppert, soon to turn 71, has been acting for half a century. And though it would have been interesting to hear more specific details about her work — notably with Michael Haneke — it was fascinating to hear how Huppert approaches her craft.

Befitting her reputation, Huppert warned that “you have to be very delicate when you speak to an actor.” But although she talked a lot about trusting and creating a bond with her directors, the impression she created of herself was as an artist who likes to be left alone. “I never like to say that I play a character,” she said. “I always prefer to say that I play a person. I always thought the [concept of a] character is very limited. It’s something you feel obliged to resemble, but there is no obligation. You have to create your own world, because it’s always a mixture of you and someone else.”

Huppert also reminded Dunne that, rather than the director, the actor needs to believe in the film itself (“You have to trust the film because the film tells the story for you”). On a film set, she said, “I think, actually, everybody [is making] different films. I do my own little film, that I don’t want to share with anybody… I feel I’m doing something very personal, something that belongs to me. Of course, there is [also] the director’s film, which I will see on screen when it’s finished.”

Intriguingly, Huppert, whose experimental, almost anarchic approach to acting is almost entirely at odds with her fiercely controlled screen image, seemed to welcome the gaps between all these different viewpoints. “You don’t give an answer when you make a film,” she said, “you raise questions.”

Ross Killeen’s Don’t Forget to Remember

After the ten-day event wrapped on Saturday, the winner of the prestigious Audience Award was announced this morning as Ross Killeen’s Don’t Forget to Remember, a collaboration with Irish street artist Asbestos in which the latter explores his relationship with his mother, who is suffering with Alzheimer’s. Runners up were Mohamed Kordofani’s Sudanese drama Goodbye Julia, and Kathleen Harris’ doc Birdsong, in which ornithologist Seán Ronayne sets out to record the call of every bird species in Ireland.

This year’s Dublin Film Critics Circle Award winners were as follows:

Best Film: Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World
Best Director: Victor Erice, Close Your Eyes
Best Screenplay: Johannes Duncker and Ilker Çatak, The Teacher’s Lounge
Best Actress: Eka Chavleishvilli, Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry
Best Actor: (Joint) Ayoub Elaid, Abdelatif El Mansouri, Hounds
Best Debut Feature: Paul B. Preciado, Orlando, My Political Biography
Special Jury Prize: Mascha Halberstad, Oink
Best Editor: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and Azusa Yamazaki, Evil Does Not Exist
Best Cinematography: Lílis Soares, Mami Wata
Best Score: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Monster
Best Ensemble: Green Border
Best Documentary: Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger
Best Irish Film: That They May Face the Rising Sun
George Byrne Maverick Award: Guy Maddin
Michael Dwyer Discovery Award: (Joint) Pavia Sidhu and Yugam Sood, Dear Jassi