Thursday, March 21, 2013

SVFF 2013: COFFEE TALK—An Evening Class Question For Jodie Foster

Photo courtesy of the Sun Valley Film Festival
If there is anything I have learned from Film Festival Studies in the past few years it is the challenge that festival programmers face in satisfying the various demands and desires of the multiple stakeholders invested in a film festival. Perhaps one of the most obvious for, perhaps, having the most precedence is that of the audience demand for glamour and spectacle, what Dina Iordanova has aptly termed the "spectacular dimension" of a film festival, or what Rupert Everett has cleverly satirized as "red carpets and other banana skins."

In their sophomore edition, the Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF) scored a major coup in bringing Jodie Foster to Idaho for one of their free-to-the-public morning Coffee Talks. Having just been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes® earlier this year, Foster leant celebrity credence to SVFF's efforts to build itself as a competitive destination film festival. She is, without question in my mind, a first-rate human being whose generosity and forthrightness as a creative individual and a citizen of the world added prestige and, indeed, a spectacular dimension to the 2013 Sun Valley Film Festival. What follows is the one question I asked her during her conversation with her SVFF audience at the nexStage. That richer more extended conversation will be published elsewhere; but, for now, I offer this teaser.

* * *

Michael Guillén: First of all, I sincerely want to thank you for helping the Sun Valley Film Festival further film exhibition within the state of Idaho. My question for you concerns your epiphanous performance in A Very Long Engagement (2004) where you spoke in French, which fascinated me. I wanted to know if you could speak to what that process was like for you as an actor to ground your performance in a language that is not your original language?

Jodie Foster: Well, I did start speaking French when I was 9. I was fluent by the time I was 10, maybe. So it's my second language, though not my first language, and I'm aware of that. I make mistakes from time to time but it is a language within which I have a persona. It's a different persona than I have in "real" life.

It's such a fun experience and so challenging to act in a different language and to find that side of yourself in a different language. I was so grateful that Jean-Pierre Jeunet decided to take me on. He hired me to play a part that no one in the world in America would ever hire me to play. Because he's French, and because I have a different persona in French, he wasn't worried about it.

There's a certain freedom that I have in the French language that I don't have in the English language. My speech pattern is different. I went to French school and I learned from all of these women that have a higher voice than I have, so my voice in French is a much higher voice. I don't speak in such a staccato way. Yeah, I'm a different person actually.

Guillén: Thank you.

Foster: Sure.

4 comments:

Mario said...

I think her voice makes 50 percent of Jodie Foster, no matter what language. In her early career days it was even more awesome, but as the tomboy disappeared her voice went higher. Would be interesting to hear her talk this facet. Thanks for the teaser, any hint where the rest will be published?

Mario said...

I think her voice makes 50 percent of Jodie Foster, no matter what language. In her early career days it was even more awesome, but as the tomboy disappeared her voice went higher. Would be interesting to hear her talk this facet. Thanks for the teaser, any hint where the rest will be published?

Michael Guillen said...

I've just started to pitch, but will advise when it lands. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

JenK said...

I love this woman. I still hear the voice that she had when young. I don't think she lost the Tom Boy, she just doesn't show it on the red carpet. I love hearing her speak French. I love listening to her analysis of film, Lit and one of her favorite cities, Berlin. My ideal date with this girl would be an endless supply of coffee and listening to her brain! Thanks for posting such an original question. Something different from Ms. Foster for a change.Thinking she appreciates something different to discuss.