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Catherine Deneuve comes to the land of her great love:

Venice Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement award goes to Deneuve

by Alessandro Romano

Catherine Deneuve, who had an unforgettable love with Marcello Mastroianni in the symbols of Italian cinema, received an award from the country of her great love. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion of the Venice Film Festival will be presented to French actress Catherine Deneuve.

At the 79th Venice Film Festival to be held from 31 August to 10 September, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement will be awarded to French actress Catherine Deneuve. Thus, Deneuve will return to the land where both his great love and his daughter Chiara Mastroianni grew up, this time to receive an award.

Yet it seemed like yesterday. The two met for the first time in the fall of 1970 during an informal dinner at the home of director Roman Polanski. Catherine Deneuve was there as a friend since they had filmed Repulsion together five years earlier, while Marcello Mastroianni was preparing to work with him on Che? Both, at the time, came from two loves that ended badly: the actress with the French director François Truffaut, the actor with his colleague Faye Dunaway.

They were both on the set of the movie “It Only Happens to Others”. Mastroianni and Deneuve played a married couple who lost their children. Director Nadine Trintignant had locked them for days in an apartment with no books, no television, no phone, just a bed and a few chairs so they could feel the pain of loneliness. They almost didn’t even eat. This experience was successful, and both fell into a period of depression. Another unexpected thing happened. Catherine and Marcello fell in love within four walls.

They broke up after filming. Mastroianni returned to Rome, Deneuve to Paris. Mastroianni was looking for Catherine every day. But there was a problem. Mastroianni was married to Flora. Before Catherine Deneuve, he had an affair with Faye Dunaway. Dunaway had asked Mastroanni for a divorce. But she didn’t know that this was a very difficult request for an Italian man.

According to a rumor, this time was different. Catherine had become a passion for him. In the end, Mastroianni had gone mad and could not stand it and wanted a divorce from his “holy” wife. His wife, Flora, had agreed to a divorce when she saw Marcello’s suffering. And Marcello rushed to Paris, and from then on they were seen everywhere with Catherine. Marcello’s joy knew no bounds: “She is in love with me! Cooks my favorite beans! Can you imagine her and the beans?” And Catherine, who never liked to cook, was cooking for Marcello. Now that a marriage proposal would be right, Marcello filled the back seat of his Jaguar car with flowers and made a proposal to Deneuve with a large diamond ring and two cases of champagne. But Deneuve said, “No.”

Very upset, Mastroianni complained to his wife on the phone about his heart, “He rejected me! I want to die!” Flora, who had endured and forgave her husband’s love affairs for twenty years, also considered the refusal of ‘this foreign woman’ to marry personally insulting. Flora had healed the moral wounds of her husband, Marcello. What happened next? With renewed vigor, Marcello returned to Paris to conquer Catherine.

It seems he had conquered Catherine. In the fall of 1971, Mastroianni was learning the wonderful news. They would have a child with Catherine. The world was stunned by the news of the pregnancy of the French actress. The baby was born on May 28, 1972. After Chiara’s birth, Mastroianni offered champagne to everyone he saw. Deneuve named her Charlotte, but Marcello was fascinated by the girl. And he exclaimed: “Chiara!” Means “bright” in Italian. In addition, she insisted on her last name. Thus, Chiara marked a new beginning in Charlotte Mastroianni’s life.

Marcello hoped that Deneuve would agree to marry him now that they had a baby, but his second attempt was also unsuccessful. Catherine Deneuve used to say, “Yes to cohabitation, but no to marriage.” And a year later, Catherine was leaving Mastroianni with the words: “I don’t want to continue this nonsense anymore.” And Marcello was returning to his faithful Flora…

According to another rumor, the love stories of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni left their mark on a period. She was the enchanting and inaccessible sphinx of French cinema, the muse of directors like Polanski and Truffaut, one of the greatest sex symbols of all time. Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni had a passionate love story. Their love was born on the set: they have struggled to stay away from each other ever since, but Mastroianni has not officially left his wife Flora, with whom he has been married since 1950. For Deneuve, Marcello had always been a “coward”. But she was also the greatest love of his life. And Catherine became the woman Marcello was constantly looking for…

Deneuve said in an interview that Chiara was a baby specifically wanted by Marcello, not by accident. “We had a shared sense of freedom, a love of life,” she says. Although being married describes him as a “coward”: I say it because he said it.” Then she adds: “He and Flora did what they wanted, what they could do”. “Was it more of a partner or a lover?” Faced with the question, Deneuve replied, “I hope for both.”

Despite the separation, the relationship between Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve remained excellent, also for the good of little Chiara. Their bond did not break even later, so much so when the actor took his last breath in December 1996 due to a pancreatic tumor, Deneuve was there next to him together with their daughter Chiara.

Although the nature of their relationship, how they broke up and why they did not get married is still controversial, it remains a fact that they had a great love and one of the biggest indicators of this love is Chiara. And Catherine Deneuve, years later, steps into the country of her love, and her daughter Chiara with Marcello, with these feelings… to receive the Golden Lion for the “Lifetime Achievement” award…

Talent-sophistication and rare beauty

The reasons for the awarding of Catherine Deneuve by the festival management were declared by Director Alberto Barbera:

“An impressive number of films, most of which are major international successes. An equally sizeable amount of awards obtained in major festivals in the world, to which must be added an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, a rare privilege for a non-American artist. A succession of artistic partnerships with some of the most important European directors and actors: Roger Vadim, Jacques Demy, Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, Roman Polanski, Marco Ferreri, Marcello Mastroianni and Gérard Depardieu. An indisputable talent at the service of interpreter skills to which a refined and out of the ordinary beauty have contributed to making her the very face of French cinema, a timeless diva, a true icon of the big screen. From being one of the most representative figures of the Nouvelle Vague and privileged witness of an idea of ​​style that is identified with fashion from beyond the Alps, Catherine Deneuve has gone on to embody the essence of the universally recognized diva, establishing herself among the greatest interpreters of cinema history. For these reasons, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement that the Venice Biennale International Film Festival attributes to it on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the first edition of the Venetian festival, after the Golden Lion won with Bella di day of Luis Buñuel in 1967 and the Volpi Cup as best actress for Place Vendôme by Nicole Garcia in 1998 ”.


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