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Huppert shows unknown sides in Seoul

Award-winning French actress in town promoting new movie and photography exhibition


France’s star actress Isabelle Huppert showed up on Thursday at The Museum of Photography, Seoul in Bangi-dong, eastern Seoul, decked in a dark brown dress and a black leather jacket, flashing the cool “French chic” smile at the press crowded to see her.

“This is my second time here since I visited the 1998 Busan International Film Festival. I just came so I never had this many photographers to welcome me, so I am very happy,” she said. 
Isabelle Huppert at the press conference held on Thursday at The Museum of Photography in eastern Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
Isabelle Huppert at the press conference held on Thursday at The Museum of Photography in eastern Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Born in Paris in 1953, the actress has appeared in more than 80 films, including critically acclaimed works like “The Pianist” and “8 Women.” She won many international film awards at top film festivals such as Cannes, Venice and Berlin.

Her visit was part of the promotion for her latest movie, “Copacabana,” which opened in cinemas nationwide on Thursday. It tells a story of the relationship between a fun-loving and infantile mother and a conservative daughter who wants to live a normal life. Huppert starred as “Babou,” the mother, and Lolita Chammah, her real-life daughter, acted as “Esmeralda,” her child.

“It was nice working with my own daughter. We could relate to some parts more easily because we are actually mother and daughter, but our actual relationship is a lot different with theirs in the movie,” said Huppert.

“It is a role I never really played before. Babou is generous with herself and with others and she finds her way through difficult times without being so stressed out. It was exciting to act a person who is so vivant and who always has such positive reactions.”

More of Huppert’s lesser known sides can be spotted at the photo exhibition “Isabelle Huppert: Woman of Many Faces” which will open at the museum on May 29. It features over 110 portrait photos of the actress taken by around 70 photographers including Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Roni Horn, Juergen Teller, Sarah Moon, Korean photographer Chun Kyung-woo and filmmaker Ronald Chammah, Huppert’s husband. Chammah revealed some of the close and intimate photos that only he could take of her. The touring show was held in seven cities including Paris, Madrid and Tokyo.

When asked what she thought as her charm that enabled such an exhibition, she answered, “I don’t know.”

“But I think that this is an exhibition that shows my life as an actress,” she said.

“As an actress, I had many photo ops to promote movies, for fashion magazines, etc, and this show is a gathering of the photos. Seeing them altogether, I found it interesting that although the model was always me I looked different in each work, depending on the photographer. An actress is like a white paper. The result can come out completely different depending on what you draw on it.”

The actress thanked the press for the question when she was asked about Korean films and directors, saying that she is very familiar with them. Without any hesitation, she named some of the representative directors ― Lee Chang-dong, Hong Sang-soo, Im Sang-soo, Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho and Kim Ki-duk ― in one breath.

“I love Korean films very much and hope that one day I would work with one of the directors. They are very popular in France, very well accepted by the French critics. I don’t know exactly how to explain it but there is a somewhat similar flow of sentiments between Korean and French films. I especially like Lee Chang-dong’s films which are sophisticated, detailed but also moderate, and Park Chan-wook’s movies. I was one of the judges for Park’s ‘Thirst’ in Cannes,” she said.

She will be meeting director Lee Chang-dong on Friday night for a “Cine Talk” event at Cine Cube in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul.

The French Embassy and French Cultural Center in Seoul will showcase nine of Isabelle Huppert’s previous films including “The Pianist” from May 31 to July 26 at Hypertheque Nada in Dongsung-dong, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 766-3399.

“Isabelle Huppert: Woman of Many Faces” runs from May 29 to Aug. 13 at The Museum of Photography, Seoul in Bangi-dong, eastern Seoul. Tickets range from 2,000 won to 8,000 won. For more information, call (02) 418-1315 or visit www.photomuseum.or.kr.

By Park Min-young (claire@heraldcorp.com)
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