WATERVILLE — Cheryl McKenney, 64, had never attended the Maine International Film Festival, but when she learned that six-time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close was to be honored this year, she bought a festival pass and planned to see all of her films.

“I absolutely love her,” McKenney said. “When I saw that she was going to be here, I was absolutely in heaven.”

McKenney was speaking Sunday afternoon just before watching Close perform in the 1988 Academy Award-winning film “Dangerous Liaisons” at Railroad Square Cinema. After the movie ended, Close appeared and answered questions from the audience. McKenney, of Waterville, was thrilled, but the best part was meeting her favorite actress after the question-and-answer session. McKenney also handed Close a gift bag.

“I made her some vases,” said McKenney, a retired health worker. “They are decoupage lighthouses from Maine. I gave it to her, and she was very gracious and accepted it.”

Close was honored a couple of hours later at the Waterville Opera House with the film festival’s Mid-Life Achievement Award. Close, 67, was given the award for significant contributions to the art of cinema. She joins past honorees Ed Harris, Keith Carradine, Malcolm McDowell, Sissy Spacek, Bud Cort, John Turturro, Peter Fonda, Thelma Schoonmaker, Lili Taylor, Arthur Penn, Terrence Malick, Jos Stelling and Walter Hill.

Close, who lives part of the year in Prouts Neck, part of Scarborough, accepted her award after the showing of her film “Albert Nobbs,” which she co-wrote, co-produced and starred in. She plays Nobbs, a woman who lives as a man in order to get a job in 19th-century Ireland.


Close was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of the beautiful but vicious Marquise de Merteuil in “Dangerous Liaisons,” which also stars John Malkovich, who plays her former lover.

The audience Sunday peppered Close with questions about her part in the film.

Close, a petite, soft-spoken, articulate woman, took her time answering questions, pausing thoughtfully between queries.

Peter Coulton of Winthrop asked whether she ever saw herself on screen and realized she was very good. Close said her goal always is to connect with audiences.

“What I hope for is an emotional continuum, that my character will be emotionally cohesive and put together in a way in the editing room that the audience never gets disconnected,” she said. “I get very upset if I think something’s happened to kind of disconnect that, and I think the movie is not as effective.”

Close said she is very unlike the character she played.


“I would be intimidated if I had to enter a room and talk to her,” she said.

While her character in “Dangerous Liasons” was devious, Close said she was able to sympathize with her, as the marquise had been treated badly by men in the past.

“I see my characters as sympathetic,” she said. “A good director allows you to be fiercely subjective around your character. To me, the only cruel character I played was Cruella DeVille (in “101 Dalmatians”).

Close said she is fascinated by human behavior and always asks, “Why, why, why, why, why?” when portraying a character.

“At least the women I have played I loved very much and had great empathy for,” she said.

Barbara Shea of Waterville said she attends every MIFF festival and was excited to think Close would be honored at the 17th annual event.

“One of the things I think is really cool is that we have somebody of that caliber coming to our little hamlet, our little spot on the map,” Shea said. “We’re not Sundance; we’re not L.A. This is wicked cool. It’s neat when they have anybody of that notoriety come.”

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