Isabelle Adjani, the Oscar-nominated star of François Truffaut’s “The Story of Adele H.” and Bruno Nuytten’s “Camille Claudel,” presided over the Cannes jury in 1997, the year of the festival’s 50th anniversary.
Heading the panel is “a very intense experience and at times a difficult mission when it comes to judging the work of other artists, and defending your emotions and ideas against those of other jury members,” says Adjani, who is a fan of incoming president Cate Blanchett. Adjani reportedly clashed with directors Mike Leigh and Nanni Moretti in choosing the winner of the 1997 Palme d’Or, with the jury eventually deciding to give the award to two films, Shohei Imamura’s “The Eel” and Abbas Kiarostami’s “Taste of Cherry.”
“The film world continues to be dominated by men,” says Adjani, one of the first and few French stars to have publicly voiced her support for the #MeToo movement. “#MeToo has spurred a solidarity among women who have been abused and brings them together within a community of victims who can help each other and fight to make laws and mentalities evolve.
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“The issue at stake is equality, not a reckoning,” Adjani adds. “The Weinstein scandal has created a new sense of solidarity between actresses who now feel stronger and more entitled to defend their integrity and their rights.”
Adjani, who has five César Awards to her name, won an extraordinary double best actress award at Cannes in 1981 for her roles in Andrzej Żulawski’s “Possession” and James Ivory’s “Quartet.”
Her strongest memory of the festival is “a luncheon that brought together all the Palme d’Or winners in 1997,” she said. “All these artists had directed masterpieces, and they had nothing more to prove. I remember feeling the respect and admiration of François Truffaut when he was talking to me about his inspirations.”
Adjani will be in Cannes this year to present one of the most anticipated films playing at the Directors’ Fortnight, Romain Gavras’ “The World Is Yours,” in which she stars as a dysfunctional mother and pathological liar. She will also soon be working with French author Virginie Despentes on a film exploring the relationship between the painter Maurice Utrillo and his mother.