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Jane Fonda calls her Lumière Award a gift of love and light

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US actress Jane Fonda receives the 10th Lumière Career Award from Costa-Gavras in Lyon 19 October 2018 Olivier Chassignole/ Festival Lumière - Institut Lumière

Graciously accepting the 10th Lumière Lifetime Acheivement Award, 81 year-old Jane Fonda beamed vitality at the hall at the Lyons Convention Centre on Friday evening. Her career in film, her espousal of causes for justice and equality, as well as her impact on the lives of millions thanks to her fitness routine, has spanned six decades Her latest, The Book Club, came out in the last year.


After receiving the wood-mounted brass plaque from fellow octagenarian and film maker Constantin Costa-Gavras, Fonda kissed hiim on the cheek and hugged her prize.

Speaking in French, which she masters fluently, having been married to late film maker Roger Vadim in the 1960s, she played on the surname of the inventors of the moving pictures, the Lumière Brothers. Lumière means light in French, and Fonda said her award was a gift of "amour et lumière", love and light.

"I am so so moved by this evening's tribute", she said, and promptly launched into a rendition of a bawdy French song her late husband had taught her. Fonda has kept her figure and also her lung-capacity.

Girl power

The Lumière Festival which has now awarded two out of its ten prizes since 2009 to women stars - the other being French actress Catherine Deneuve in 2016 - paid tribute to Fonda's feminist militancy with readings by actresses Dominique Blanc, Suzanne Clément, Anäis Demoustier, and Anne Cosigny. They read extracts from Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and Fonda's own biography.

Describing her as "fiercely independent", this year's Lumière Festival, which celebrates film classics from all over the world, paid tribute to Fonda, with 16 of her films, including one French film of 1964, Les Felins, The Felines, by René Clement, her Oscar-award winning Klute directed by Alain Pakula in 1971 and another of her earlier sexier films, Vadim's Barbarella. Susan Lacy's documentary, Jane Fonda in 5 Acts is part of the selection.

No Jane without Henry and the festival tipped its hat to her father in eight films choosing the poignant tear-jerker set during the economic depression in the US in 1929, The Grapes of Wrath, as the 2018 Festival's closing film on Sunday 21 October.

No Regrets vs My Way vs Born in the USA

Jane Fonda's ceremony in Lyon on Friday was peppered with song, although she's hardly known for her musical career, more for her determination when it comes to the social causes she supports and funds. So with a nod to her affinity with France, and her declared affection for the songs of Edith Piaf, Nolwenn Leroy sang the well-known 'I have no regrets' and got Fonda, festival co-director Thierry Frémaux and the audience to karaoké "Non, rien de rien, non je ne regrette rien".

Known in the States and elsewhere, as much for her film roles since the late 1950s as she is for her outspoken, anti-establishment stands, Fonda has fought for issues ranging from US army’s withdrawal from the Vietnam War 50 years ago, "it was a male ego issue", to equality for women and all races.

Today she is investing in the fight against climate change. Along with feminist issues, it's one of the questions which pitches her against the thinking of current US president Donald Trump.

During a conversational 'Master Class' at the Céléstins Theatre before the award ceremony, she said she is however is grateful to him for one thing, "People have woken up."

Sharing her experiences over the years which included being arrested for what was viewed as an anti-patriotic act in Vietnam during the war, as well as her successful case against the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which ironically she says she is now "rooting for", doyenne Fonda sent messages. "The reactions of the wounded monster, patriarchy that is, are dangerous, " and she warned against complacency. "Before [1968 in Paris] I had no convictions. It is much easier to be ignorant, but once you know, you can't turn your back or you become guilty."