FICCI 56 Pays Tribute to Susan Sarandon

The Cartagena International Film Festival (FICCI) is pleased to welcome one of the most outstanding actresses of our times as its guest of honor this year. Susan Sarandon, the New Yorker who has appeared in everything from dramas and cult films to comedy and animated movies in a career spanning over 40 years, joins the party with a retrospective featuring six films in which she gives some of her most acclaimed performances.
Little did Sarandon imagine she would become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses in the cut-throat movie industry. Over 40 years have passed since she did her first film and even though she has a star in the Hall of Fame, she still can’t quite understand how she got here. This amazing sense of humility, combined with her strength of character and conviction when talking about her political postures, have made her a living icon of the seventh art.

Her introduction to the acting world was as unconventional as she herself is as an actress—one day she accompanied her first husband to an audition for Joe (1970) and left with the lead part. It wasn’t long before directors started knocking on the door of this unusual actress who had no formal training to speak of and no experience other than the auditions she’d done for the theater group at the Catholic University of America while she was studying there. Her enormous dramatic intensity, magnified by her distinctive large eyes and fiery red hair, no doubt had something to do with it. Today her name guarantees the success of any production.

Sarandon has appeared in more than 130 films and her performances have earned her Golden Globe, EMMY and Oscar nominations. In 1996, she won an Academy Award for Best Lead Actress in Dead Man Walking (1995) and has also won BAFTA and SAG awards. Her work has been acknowledged by the Lincoln Center Film Society and she has been showered with awards at film festivals worldwide. FICCI, the longest-running film festival in Latin America, joins the army of admirers of this acting legend who is not only a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, but who champions numerous other causes.

Our retrospective begins with The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), a cult classic in which Sarandon made waves as Janet, the recently wed heroine who ends up at Dr. Frank-N–Furter’s castle, where strangely wonderful events occur. Next is Atlantic City (1980), in which her performance as Sally, a love-struck character who lives on the edge in a haze of drugs, earned her her first Oscar nomination. In The Hunger (1983), she and the recently deceased David Bowie try to escape the destiny Miriam the vampire (Catherine Deneuve) has in store for them.

One of her more controversial roles was as the waitress Louise in the box-office hit Thelma & Louise(1991), in which her character takes to the open road in search of freedom and ends up running from the law. No retrospective of Sarandon’s work would be complete without Dead Man Walking, the film that won her an Oscar for her performance as Sister Helen Prejean, who is based on a real life character. And to round off, Romance & Cigarettes (2005), a musical directed by John Turturro that flits between comedy and drama, showing off the eclecticism and versatility of this talented actress.