French star takes on different role

Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2015 - 1:00am

MANILA, Philippines - She came not as an Oscar-winning movie star but as an activist.

Marion Cotillard, touted as this century’s most bankable French actress, may have added star power to the entourage of French President Francois Hollande who wrapped up his two-day visit here yesterday, but she was clearly on a mission to help put the spotlight on a non-show biz issue: the fight against climate change.

France has made a global appeal for action in the lead-up to the summit gathering of world leaders to be held in Paris in December.

The Philippines has been described by experts as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, bearing the brunt of such impacts as “extreme weather events.”

Fittingly so, a highlight of Cotillard’s trip was the visit to Guiuan, Eastern Samar, where Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), recorded as one of the world’s strongest tropical cyclones ever, made its first landfall in 2013.

Joined by fellow French actress Melanie Laurent, Cotillard met and interacted with the townsfolk as they walked from the public market to the Guiuan East Central elementary school.

In an interview yesterday during a fellowship event with the French community in the Philippines at the Eurocampus in Parañaque, Cotillard noted the positive energy of the people of Guiuan despite having experienced tragedy and having lost so much.

“The general feeling besides the fact that people here are so nice, is that we didn’t see anyone who consider themselves as a victim, but more as survivors that need to face a new climate and need the help of the international community,” she said.

“The dynamic is so positive. It was really, really beautiful to watch and I’m very proud that France can be part of the struggle and the adaptation. But this is more positive work than struggle because what struck me was this very positive energy because you don’t consider yourself as victims. This is the first step to action... And we need positive energy in this world,” she added.

Even if she has a busy schedule and was moving around on a crutch, it was important for Cotillard to be part of the trip to the Philippines. Just last week, she was at the Oscars for her second Best Actress nomination for the film Two Days, One Night.

“I’ve always heard about the Philippines. My friends who traveled the world when I asked them, where was the most beautiful place, most of the time, they answered Philippines,” she said.

“And also I worked closely with a woman from here. Her name is Elma, she’s part of the family. I’ve been working with her for two years. I don’t know why I get emotional (talking about her),” said Cotillard, her face lighting up at the mention of the Filipina nanny of her child.

“So the Philippines is this special place because of her and all the people who talked to me about this country, and of course, the fact that you’re on the first line of climate change and climate disturbing. And also because, as I’ve said, I’m very proud of my country being part of this friendship and willingness to help anyone who wants to make a difference,” she said.

Cotillard, who has won acclaim for her movies like A Very Long Engagement, Inception, Nine and La Vie En Rose, for which she won an Oscar Best Actress trophy, has long used her celebrity clout for environmental causes.

Asked what the world can learn from the Yolanda devastation, she said, “They should learn that we’re all responsible for what happened because it is fact, scientists say it. Human beings are responsible for climate changes. We are directly responsible for what’s happening in your country.”

Cotillard also said that it’s her first time in the country but “definitely not the last.”

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