San Sebastián International Film Festival (SSIFF) has announced that the third of this year’s Donostia Awards will go to famed British actress Judi Dench. Other recipients this year are Japanese TV and filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda and American actor, director, producer Danny DeVito. Dench will receive the award in a ceremony held Tuesday Sept 25th, held just before a screening of her latest film, Trevor Nunn’s “Red Joan.”
Dench is a seven time Oscar nominee, having won the award for best supporting actress in 1999’s “Shakespeare in Love,” twelve time Golden Globe nominee, with wins in 1997 (“Mirs Brown”) and 2000 (“The Last of the Blonde Bombshells”), and has essentially owned the Bafta’s, with 26 nominations and 11 wins in the past half-century plus. She also scooped a Tony award for best lead actress in 1999’s “Amy’s View.” 2018 will mark the actresses’ first appearance at the San Sebastián Festival.
Among her more notable performances are her turns as the Queen of England, whether as Victoria in “Mrs Brown” and “Victoria & Abdul,” or Elizabeth in “Shakespeare in Love”; working alongside Maggie Smith in “A Room With a View”; or her iconic stint as James Bond’s boss M, a role she filled from 1995-2012 when Ralph Fiennes took the reins. It was her time spent on the Bond franchise, arguably Britain’s most well recognized after “Harry Potter,” that cemented her reputation as not just a period piece standard, but a box office mega-star with drawing power most actors only dream of.
In “Red Joan” Dench plays the titular Joan Stanley, a woman living a quiet life around the turn of the 21st century. Out of seemingly nowhere, the retiree is arrested by MI5 and accused of providing confidential information to communist Russia throughout the Cold War. The film reflects back on Stanley’s life from university through her career, and a series of impossible decisions she was forced to make in that time.
Although intended as recognition of a career’s worth of work, the Donostia is often given to actors still in their prime, as is the case with Dench. Upcoming films from the actress include Kenneth Branagh’s “Artemis Fowl” and Andy Goddard’s “Six Minutes to Midnight.”