A Tribute to Jennifer Beals: Flashdance, Sundance and Beyond

Jennifer Beals Tribute

A Tribute to Jennifer Beals: Flashdance, Sundance and Beyond

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We always hear about an actor leaving school to pursue a dream to be a star. Jennifer Beals made a tough and exceptional choice by evading the lures of Hollywood Celebrity and by choosing a determined path towards wisdom and completeness. Jennifer Beals performed a rare feat in starring in a blockbuster film while still a college freshman at Yale University and then continuing with tenacity to receive a degree in American literature from the school. A chapter complete.

Perseverance is a word that faithfully journeys with Jennifer Beals as she continues to surprise audiences with a fresh and unpredictable approach. She is often associated with her stirring role as the welder-turned-dancer, Alex, in director Adrian Lyne's Flashdance (1983) - a role for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture. Her exotic looks have made it physically possible for Beals to assume a diverse gallery of roles and not find herself typecast. Since her breakthrough in Flashdance, Beals has mesmerized audiences with such varied roles as the re-animated 18th-Century Eva in Franc Roddam's The Bride (1985), the whimsical Angelica in Alexandre Rockwell's multi-award-winning comedy, In the Soup (1992), and the abused Angela in the anthology, Four Rooms (1995).

Unlike most actors who like to "play it safe" when choosing their roles, it has been a practice of Beals to accept some very unexpected characters, and one can certainly be challenged to find her playing the same character twice. Of particular note in her wealth of adventurous parts is the portrayal of the enigmatic and dark Rachel of the black comedy, Vampire's Kiss (1989), where she lures Nicholas Cage into his self- made hell. Further revealing her vicissitude and drive to challenge herself, Beals has even worked abroad with such celebrated European directors as Carlo Vanzini (The Gamble, 1988), Claude Chabrol (Dr. M, 1990), and Nanni Moretti (Cannes Film Festival winner, Caro Diario, 1994). Following successes from afar, Beals again focused on American cinema and amassed more critical praise for her depiction of the neglected Gertrude Benchley in Alan Rudolph's Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994) and the mysterious beauty possibly involved in murder in Carl Franklin's Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), for which she was nominated for an Image Award as an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture.

Cinequest's maverick vision is easily defined by an artist such as Jennifer Beals. Through her innovative and creative essence, she has introduced us to many inspiring, sensual and clever characters. From girl-next-door to femme fatale, she always provokes a multitude of emotions in us, while making sure we continually perceive her self-assuredness.

Ms. Beals will be appearing for this special tribute with a screening of the Bay Area theatrical premiere of Twilight of the Golds, also starring Brendan Fraser, Garry Marshall, Faye Dunaway, Jon Tenney, Rosie O'Donnell. In the Soup, another outstanding film in her career, will be screening the following night. - Mike Rabehl