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The Icon of the New Wave

The Icon of the New Wave

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The Festival del film Locarno celebrates Danish-French actress Anna Karina, who will introduce US director George Cukor’s.
Justine

“I am not that young anymore; good film roles are sparse for actresses my age, and I do not really want to show up on the screen with a ‘hello, goodbye’ except for very, very good directors,” said Danish-French actress Anna Karina, this year a celebrated guest on her first visit to the Festival del film Locarno.

Anna Karina will introduce US director George Cukor’s 1969 drama, Justine (in which she performed), screening in the 2013 retrospective, and the festival will pay tribute to her by a special programme including French director Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders, which competed in Locarno 1964; Italian director Luchino Visconti’s The Stranger (1967); and French director Pierre Koralnik’s TV film Anna (1967), followed by a Q&A.

A native Dane, born Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer, she has lived in Paris since her teens, at a time working as a model, but always with ambitions of becoming an actress - “not possible with a name like that,” declared Coco Chanel and suggested Anna Karina. And it was not Godard, her later husband, who discovered her talent, although he offered her a part in his 1960 debut, Breathless, which she refused, because she would not appear naked.

In the 1950s a Danish director, Ib Schmedes, saw her singing in a Parisian street and offered her to play in an 11-minute short, The Girl with the Shoes; it was not premiered until 1959, when it was also selected for Cannes. Then came Godard – she won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale for his A Woman Is a Woman (1961), followed by, ao, her own favourites, My Life to Live (1962) and Pierrot le fou (1965). She was the Icon of the New Wave.

Last time Anna Karina was filming, was in 2008 when she wrote, directed and starred in Victoria, a French-Canadian road movie; at 72 she can look back at a career not only as an actress on stage (in plays by Denis Diderot, Ingmar Bergman) and screen (79 films, eight with Godard), a director (two films), a singer-songwriter (12 records and CDs, one with Serge Gainsbourg) and as an author of four novels.

Two years ago she wrote (in French) and recorded The Ugly Ducking, a musical fairy tale based on the story by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875); it will shortly be followed by The Little Mermaid (also from Andersen), who will give up her identity and life in the sea to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince.

Jørn Rossing Jensen

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