Isabelle Huppert Tests Positive for COVID, Unable to Accept Berlinale Golden Bear

The French actress is the recipient of this year's lifetime achievement award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Best Actress honoree Isabelle Huppert attends the New York Film Critics Circle Awards at TAO Downtown on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

The in-person Berlin International Film Festival hit an obstacle today, as Isabelle Huppert, this year’s recipient of the prestigious Honorary Golden Bear award, is unable to attend the festival after testing positive for COVID-19, the festival announced. The actress caught the virus in Paris, and while she is not seriously ill, she can not accept her lifetime achievement award in person.

Huppert was scheduled to be in Berlin both to accept the award and to promote her latest film, “About Joan,” which is screening at the festival. The film, hailing from director Laurent Larivière, stars Huppert as a woman forced to confront her past after a mysterious figure from earlier in her life confronts her on a retreat to the countryside with her son.

However, the award ceremony is still scheduled to proceed at the Berlinale Palast on the evening of Tuesday, February 15. Huppert, who is asymptomatic and maintains that she feels fine, will still participate in the ceremony remotely and address the audience live from Paris via video. The ceremony will be followed by a screening of “About Joan.” However, another planned event at the festival billed as “Berlinale Homage: In Conversation with Isabelle Huppert” has been canceled.

“Considering that Isabelle Huppert is not feeling sick and she is willing to support the festival, we have decided to go on with the award ceremony,” festival directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said in a statement. As she cannot come, we will send our love and admiration to her home in Paris. We look forward to having her in Berlin another time.”

The Honorary Golden Bear is awarded each year to a distinguished member of the film community to honor their lifelong body of work. The first recipient was James Stewart in 1982, and recent honorees include Meryl Streep, Wim Wenders, and Helen Mirren. 

Huppert is being honored for her film career that spans five decades, including an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in 2016’s “Elle.” Her upcoming film credits include roles in “Carvaggio’s Shadow,” “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” and “The Sitting Duck.”

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