'Just say no' to roles that objectify women: French actress Juliette Binoche

French actress Juliette Binoche with her Donostia Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain on Sept 18, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain – Actresses must learn to just say “no” to roles that objectify women, Oscar-winning French actress Juliette Binoche said on Sunday at the San Sebastian Film Festival, where she was honoured with an award for her acting career.

“You have to know how to say no to things so that you don’t end up in a kind of situation where you are seen in a certain way,” said Binoche, who is one of France’s most recognised actors.

When she was offered roles where she was “somebody’s woman, or objectified as a woman”, she turned them down.

“I just said ‘no’ because I wasn’t interested,” the 58-year-old told reporters, admitting that she felt “very lucky” to have played so many interesting parts throughout her career.

“I know there are women who are victims of this... but you have to know how to reject this kind of codified cinema,” said Binoche, whose role in the romantic war drama The English Patient (1996) won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

“It’s not always easy, but you have to know how to take a leap into the unknown where these chauvinistic codes no longer apply.”

Binoche, who has taken on some 75 different parts since her silver-screen debut in 1983, said she tries to “never judge a role, but to embrace it with all its contradictions, all its darkness, and for what ultimately makes it human”.

“And when a storyline leads to an evolution or a transformation, that’s what interests me most.”

On Sunday evening, the festival presented Binoche and Canadian director David Cronenberg with the honorary Donostia Award in recognition of their careers.

Past recipients of the festival’s highest honour include American actors Meryl Streep, Richard Gere and Robert De Niro and British actor Ian McKellen.

Last year’s honours were awarded to French actress Marion Cotillard and Hollywood star Johnny Depp. AFP

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