By Belinda Goldsmith
Upham features in "Jimmy P. Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian", focused on the relationship between World War Two veteran Jimmy Picard, a Native American Blackfoot, and Georges Devereux, his psychoanalyst.
Upham said like Picard, played by Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro, she is Blackfeet, the largest tribe in Montana state. She said she was a direct descendant of the last chief and grew up on the reservation where much of the movie was filmed.
"I had no dreams and no way to make a dream. I had to leave the reservation," Upham, 30, told a news conference on Saturday ahead of the premiere of the film's premiere by French director Arnaud Desplechin.
"So 18 years later ... (I am) coming a full circle to the reservation I left to fulfill my dream."
Upham says [she] and another "Jimmy P." actress, Michelle Thrush, a Cree from Canada, are the first Native American women in the official selection at Cannes, although organizers of the festival, now in its 66th year, were unable to confirm it.
"We believe in spirits. We believe in ghosts. We believe in shape shifting. We believe in medicine and curses. We are very spiritual people," said the actress, best known for the 2008 film "Frozen River".
"What somebody else would call delusional, to us it is normal. That is why they had to create a new way to see what is going on in our minds without confusing the spirituality."
Cannes Film Festival 2013 Spotlight: Rising Starlet Misty Upham
As Lila the widowed Mohawk mum looking to reclaim her son from the mother-in-law while smuggling immigrants, MISTY was a revelation and showcased how great she is at delivering on conflicting emotions. She was able to sustain the attention of audiences who must have been fascinated with the multi-layered role MISTY so successfully made believable. Slated to star with the legendary Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County,” a dark comedy based on a play, things are looking very rosy indeed. It’s a key role for MISTY as Johnna Monevata, a Cheyenne woman hired as a live-in housekeeper by the Weston family whom has demanding matriarch Violet Weston of course played by Meryl Streep. So start admiring this most graceful Native American talent certain to make waves the world over!
Thrush is at Cannes with her own story of dreams coming true. "I was interviewed the previous year on Entertainment Tonight and asked ‘Out of every actor in the world who would I want to work with? Who would be my dream to work with?'" she told the Calgary Herald. “I said Benicio Del Toro. So it was quite interesting that it happened.” Thrush admitted that her admiration for her co-star was initially an impediment. "I couldn’t seem to get my lines right,” she said. “I just couldn’t get over the fact that I’m sitting beside this person who I have such a huge amount of respect for." Eventually, Del Toro pulled her aside for a conversation that put her at ease.
This isn't Thrush's first time in a Cannes contender--she played Nobody's Girlfriend (opposite Gary Farmer, who is also in Jimmy P.) in the 1995 Palme D'Or nominee Dead Man. But Thrush didn't attend that year's festival. This time around, she's not permitting herself to miss out--she is, to put it plainly, ready to party. “People keep telling me to try and get into the yacht parties and boat parties,” she told the Calgary Herald. “I’m going to do it. I will live every single moment. I probably will not sleep for seven days straight.”
Comment: For more on the subject, see My Interview with Misty Upham and Del Toro to Play Native Veteran.
Below: "Director Arnaud Desplechin (2ndR) and cast members Gina McKee (R), Misty Upham (2ndL) and Michelle Thrush pose during a photocall for the film 'Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian)' at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 18, 2013." (Reuters/Eric Gaillard)