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Isabelle Huppert on Her Best Cannes Memories and the Lack of Female Jury Presidents

French star Isabelle Huppert, whose role in Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe last year, served as president of the Cannes Film Festival jury in 2009.

Huppert was reportedly at odds with fellow juror James Gray over awarding the Palme d’Or to Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon” and was accused by
some of favoring Haneke because he had directed her in “The Piano Teacher,” which earned her the prize for best actress at Cannes in 2001. Winning that year and also in 1978 for her performance in Claude Chabrol’s “Violette Noziere” remain her strongest memories of Cannes.

“The festival is first and foremost a competition, and when you’re in competition, the best thing is to win,” Huppert says. “Honestly, without blushing, I can say that each time it was an intense and immense pleasure.”

Although she is one of fewer than a dozen women to oversee the Cannes jury, don’t expect Huppert, who has a deep bond with the festival, to dish on the lack of female presidents. “The presidency of Cannes’ jury is not such a big deal when you think that Jesus Christ himself chose his disciples one by one, including Judas, without choosing a single woman,” she says. “Or that Shakespeare wrote women’s roles for men.”

Huppert, however, thinks that “Anna Magnani would have been a wonderful president of the jury at Cannes,” and that Marilyn Monroe “would have probably surprised everyone.”

Huppert also speaks highly of incoming president Cate Blanchett. ”If I start enumerating all of Cate’s qualities, it’s going to make me jealous! I prefer not to start,” she says. “I know that she is enough of a cinephile to award films that will have a progressive impact on cinema as a whole. Does she know Jean-Luc Godard’s films? She will have a chance to discover his latest film” (“The Image Book”).

Huppert is currently shooting Anne Fontaine’s “Pure as Snow,” a lighthearted and sensual retelling of the fairy tale of Snow White.

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