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Jean-Paul Belmondo (1933 - 2021) - Remembered

This Festival, we pay tribute to some of the film legends that we have lost over the last year. We include the Indigenous Australian artist and actor David Gulpilil; American director, actor and cinephile Peter Bogdanovich; Italian screen icon Monica Vitti; French New Wave star Jean Paul Belmondo; and two legendary music composers, Italy’s Ennio Morricone and Greece’s Vangelis. We hope our small tribute to each brings their important work to light for the uninitiated and reignites the flame of those who are already acquainted with them.

Jean-Paul Belmondo (1933-2021) was born in Neuilly, the son of sculptor Paul Belmondo. Kicked out of several schools for unruly behaviour, he trained as a boxer before turning to acting. His drama teachers thought that he did not have the physique and talent to get lead roles, but Jean-Luc Godard decided that he had just the right laidback spontaneity to play Michel Poiccard in ‘Breathless’ (1960).

Never really attracted to Hollywood, Belmondo worked with the greatest French directors of his time, but his popularity waned in the late 1980s despite a César for best actor (his only one) in ‘Itinerary of a Spoilt Child’ (1989). From 1991 Belmondo mostly worked for the stage until his acting career ended when he suffered a major stroke that left him unable to speak for two years. In 2011, he was awarded an honorary Palme d’Or in Cannes for his outstanding contribution to cinema, and last year, France paid him an emotional tribute with a state funeral attended by thousands.