As expected, French auteur Jean-Luc Godard is unlikely to attend the Governors Awards on Nov. 14 to accept his honorary Oscar. In a candid conversation with a reporter from The Australian, his companion Anne-Marie Mieville revealed his disappointment that the presentation is to be made in a standalone ceremony: "At first he thought it was going to be part of the same ceremony, then he realized it was a separate thing in November."
Not that inclusion in the main Oscarcast would have made any difference to the 79-year-old filmmaker. As Mieville explained, "Jean-Luc won't go to America, he's getting old for that kind of thing. Would you go all that way just for a bit of metal?" If not to collect an Oscar -- arguably the highest honor in all of filmdom -- just what could inspire Godard to make a trans-oceanic trip? As she recalls, "He once flew to Japan for an award, but he did that for the dosh."
The academy should not be surprised by his indifference. After all, Godard did not bother to attend the 2007 European Film Awards honoring him for his lifetime of work and that ceremony took place in Berlin, only 600 miles from his home in Rolle, a small town just outside of Geneva. Instead he sent a note that read, in part, "I don't have the impression that I have made a career."
Godard was a key player in the French New Wave and his 1960 directorial debut "Breathless" left critics just that. He won the best director prize at the Berlin filmfest for "Breathless" and took home the top prize of the Golden Bear in 1965 for "Alphaville." Over the years, he has reaped a half-dozen awards from this festival. However, in his native France, Godard has been spurned by both Cannes -- six of his films contended unsuccessfully for the Palme d'Or, and the Cesars -- he lost best director and best picture for both "Every Man for Himself" and "Godard's Passion."
For the academy to honor a filmmaker such as Godard, who has never been nominated for an Oscar, is unusual but not unheard of. In 1999, the Polish writer-director Andrzej Wajda was saluted while in 1991 the Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray was lauded. And last year, the academy extolled the work of home-grown B-movie mogul Roger Corman.
Photo: Jean-Luc Godard. Credit: AMPAS