European Movies Lifetime Achievement Award: Women Mostly Ignored

Danielle Darrieux Lifetime Achievement AwardEuropean Film Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award: Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Moreau, Judi Dench are the only three female recipients to date (image: European movies' Lifetime Achievement Award-less actress Danielle Darrieux)

(See previous post: “Catherine Deneuve: Only the Third Woman to Receive European Film Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award.”) As mentioned in the previous post, French film icon Catherine Deneuve is only the third woman to receive the European Film Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award since the organization's first awards ceremony in 1988. Deneuve's predecessors are The Lovers' Jeanne Moreau (1997) and Notes on a Scandal's Judi Dench (2008). In that regard, the European Film Academy is as male-oriented as the Beverly Hills-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. More on that below.

Male recipients of the European Film Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award are the following: Ingmar Bergman, Marcello Mastroianni, Federico Fellini, Andrzej Wajda, Alexandre Trauner, Billy Wilder, Michelangelo Antonioni, Robert Bresson, Marcel Carné, Alec Guinness, Ennio Morricone, Richard Harris, Monty Python, Tonino Guerra, Claude Chabrol, Carlos Saura, Sean Connery, Roman Polanski, Jean-Luc Godard, Ken Loach, Bruno Ganz, Stephen Frears, and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Are those men undeserving? Of course not. Whether or not you or I like them, they've enjoyed long and well-regarded film careers. But now, take a look at the list of women who have yet to receive the European Film Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Danielle Darrieux, Deborah Kerr, Sophia Loren among women bypassed by the European Film Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award

Among the women so far bypassed by the European Film Academy for its Lifetime Achievement Award are actresses Danielle Darrieux (whose movie career began in 1931), Michèle Morgan (1935), Micheline Presle (1939), Leslie Caron, Vanessa Redgrave, Sophia Loren, Liv Ullmann, Monica Vitti, Stéphane Audran, Emmanuelle Riva, Maggie Smith, Hanna Schygulla, Claire Bloom, Claudia Cardinale, Helen Mirren, Gina Lollobrigida, Bibi Andersson, Victoria Abril, Harriet Andersson, Julie Christie, Irene Papas, Isabelle Huppert, Carmen Maura, Glenda Jackson, and Isabelle Adjani. In addition to directors Agnès Varda and Lina Wertmuller, and producer Margaret Ménégoz.

A few of those European film women have received other special awards from the European Film Academy, e.g., Achievement in World Cinema recipients Isabelle Huppert, Victoria Abril, Liv Ullmann, and Helen Mirren; and Prix Eurimages winner Margaret Ménégoz. But those awards are not the same as “Body of Work” or “Career” honors.

Of course, it's too late now for the likes of Deborah Kerr, Margaret Lockwood, Ingrid Thulin, Susannah York, Sara Montiel, Annie Girardot, and Alida Valli, but Julie Andrews is still around. It's true that Andrews is a Hollywood – not an European Cinema – star, but then again Billy Wilder was a Hollywood filmmaker. Check out, for instance, The Major and the Minor, Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., and The Apartment. Or even Ninotchka (which Wilder co-wrote) or A Foreign Affair or One, Two, Three; though set in Europe, these are definitely not European films. But that didn't prevent Wilder from taking home the European Film Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award back in 1992.

Catherine Deneuve, Angela Lansbury, Angelina Jolie: 2013 'Special' Award recipients

Anyhow, perhaps the European Film Academy's 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award for Catherine Deneuve was inspired by Hollywood's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which a few weeks ago named two women as special award recipients: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner Angelina Jolie and Honorary Oscar winner Angela Lansbury (along with Steve Martin and Piero Tosi).

Overall, however, when it comes to honoring women in the film industry the Hollywood Academy has a record as poor as its European counterpart. Angela Lansbury is only the tenth woman to receive an Honorary Award for an individual's body of work, an honor that has been bestowed since 1936, while Angelina Jolie is only the seventh woman to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, a periodic trophy presented since the mid-'50s.

European Movies Lifetime Achievement Award: Women Mostly Ignored © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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