Cannes veteran Deneuve says moved by festival return after stroke

The 74th Cannes Film Festival - News conference for the film
The 74th Cannes Film Festival - News conference for the film "De son vivant" (Peaceful) Out of Competition - Cannes, France, July 11, 2021. Cast member Catherine Deneuve attends. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause

July 11, 2021

CANNES, France (Reuters) – Catherine Deneuve, who has walked the red carpet at Cannes since the 1960s, said on Sunday she had never been as moved as this year to return to the film festival after the coronavirus pandemic and her stroke in 2019.

The 77-year-old is a pillar of French cinema and still appears in multiple movies. Wearing a black velvet dress and a chunky gold necklace, Deneuve returned to Cannes on Saturday for the premiere of “Peaceful” by French director Emmanuelle Bercot, which is being presented out of the main competition.

Deneuve and the crew received a standing ovation, visibly moving the actress. She has appeared infrequently in public after the pandemic forced fashion shows to shift online and Cannes festival organisers to cancel the 2020 edition.

“It was absolutely extraordinary. Until the last minute, we were wondering if it could really take place,” Deneuve told a press conference for the film.

“I’ve known Cannes for such a long time. Each time it’s something very different. But I think maybe I was never as moved as I was yesterday evening, when I entered the theatre and seeing the way the public welcomed the film and myself.”

Deneuve was hospitalised in November 2019 in Paris after suffering what her family said at the time was a “limited” stroke.

Asked about tackling “Peaceful” – in which a young man is struck by illness and has to grapple with the prospect of dying along with his mother, played by Deneuve – the actress said the last year of pandemic and her own health scare had affected her.

“A lot of things happened to me during a time that has been quite remarkable,” Deneuve said.

(Reporting by Sarah White, Fedja Grulovic and Michaela Cabrera; Editing by Frances Kerry)