LYON, France — The Lumière Film Festival opened in Lyon, France, on Saturday with a grand ceremony celebrating the event’s 10th anniversary.
Institut Lumière Director Thierry Frémaux welcomed a host of French and international stars and filmmakers to the festivities at the city’s immense Halle Tony Garnier concert hall, among them Javier Bardem, Monica Bellucci, Jean Dujardin and Guillermo del Toro.
It was Jean-Paul Belmondo who drew the evening’s biggest applause and a standing ovation, however. The iconic French star was on hand for the opening night screening of Claude Lelouch’s 1988 comedy-drama “Itinerary of a Spoiled Child” in a newly restored print. Lelouch and co-star Richard Anconina were likewise in attendance.
“For our 10th anniversary we wanted to show a French film,” Frémaux said. “Lelouch was here our first year … and he’s here because he is one of the greatest filmmakers in France and the world.”
Taking to the stage, Institut Lumière president Bertrand Tavernier praised Lelouch for his “all encompassing passion for cinema, for his actors” and for having “fought for cinema.”
Recalling the beginnings of the festival a decade ago, Tavernier said: “There was skepticism and ironic comments – no one took our cine club seriously. But we are still here. The festival took off in the first year.”
The famed filmmaker alluded to the current proliferation of social media and its impact on life, putting it in sharp contrast to the joys that the cherished works of a bygone era still offer.
“We live under the dictatorship of the immediacy, the present, the little sentence with which we comment on everything. The works that we show here bring us incalculable emotions – it’s priceless.”
Tavernier also expressed solidarity for Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian director currently imprisoned in Russia on disputed terrorism charges and who recently ended a 145-day hunger strike for the release of 64 other Ukrainian political prisoners due to critical health problems.
“His situation is dramatic and his fight poignant. He is a hero of our time who needs our support and help,” he added.
The ceremony’s long list of high-profile guests also included Liv Ullmann, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Christophe Lambert, Asghar Farhadi, Hugh Hudson and Jerry Schatzberg.
While not in attendance, Clint Eastwood made an appearance via video with a moving tribute to local cinema champion, filmmaker and former Cannes film scout Pierre Rissient, signing off with “Au revoir mon ami.”
During the ceremony, Frémaux also took the opportunity to tout an ambitious plan to expand the Institut Lumière and introduced renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, who unveiled a scale model of his design for the expansion of the facility, which includes a museum and library.
The Lumière Film Festival runs through Oct. 21.