WATERVILLE — French actress Dominique Sanda has had dreams of traveling to Maine since 1987.

At that time, she had been working on a recording of a book penned by Marguerite Yourcenar, a French writer and essayist who lived on Mount Desert Island. She died in that house in the same year,

“Many times in my life I had thought I would love to see the house of Marguerite Yourcenar,” Sanda said. “I had the chance to meet her and I have good memories of that particular moment of my life.”

A few months ago, Sanda, 67, received an invitation to the Maine International Film Festival from program director Ken Eisen, saying that she had been selected as the festival’s 2018 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“It was so funny, so strange,” Sanda said. “Sometimes in life you wish something and it happens.”

For Sanda, the award itself is “the fruit on the cake.”

“I’m very honored,” Sanda said Sunday evening from a seat at the Waterville Opera House before the screening of one of her best-known movies, “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1972.

The award ceremony followed the screening, where Sanda joined the list of previous award winners: Ed Harris, Glenn Close, Lili Taylor, Sissy Spacek, Lauren Hutton, Jonathan Demme, Keith Carradine, Walter Hill, Michael Murphy, Gabriel Byrne, Jay Cocks, Robert Benton, Peter Fonda, Jos Stelling, Arthur Penn, Terrence Malick, John Turturro, Thelma Schoonmaker, Malcolm McDowell and Bud Cort.

Audiences will be able to catch screenings of Sanda’s films “1900 (Novecento),” “The Conformist,” “Going Away,” “The Inheritance,” “The MacKintosh Man,” and “Steppenwolf” throughout the next week at the Opera House and Railroad Square Cinema.

Eisen said Saturday after a screening of Sanda’s first movie, “Une Femme Douce,” that her film work had changed his life.

“She and the movie ‘The Conformist’ are responsible for me here right now,” he said.

She said she plans to visit Marguerite Yourcenar’s home on Mount Desert Island this week, and see some films, of course.

Sanda, who arrived Friday after a 28-hour trip from Uruguay, where she has lived for about 16 years, said the reception from the guests at the festival had been warm and welcoming.

“I got the feeling that they were very interested because it’s very rare for the public to ask questions,” she said of a question-and-answer session Saturday after her film.

“Everyone is very silent and shy or not interested, but it’s very rare that the people really talk and say what they’re feeling and explain what they feel, and it was really nice,” Sanda said.

During that session, Sanda told how she got her start in the film industry while working as a fashion model in Paris.

“I was always going to be an actress,” Sanda said. “I am an artist. I was born this way.”

Her mother wanted Sanda to be a secretary and work for her father, but that was not a life that interested her.

“I couldn’t bear doing it,” Sanda said. “I always wanted to have an interesting life, doing anything that had to do with real art.”

Sanda is still working, but she is selective about what she chooses. This year she is working on a movie with a Sicilian director that she says has an interesting script.

“This year I have a project to do but it depends on the moment, but I never close the door. I love what I do,” she said. “If someone wants me to do something and they think it’s important that I be there and not anybody else, I’ll go.”

Emily Higginbotham can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: EmilyHigg

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