French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski are the recipients of the Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival (August 31 – September 10, 2016).
The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, upon recommendation of the Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera.
The Board of Directors has decided to award two Golden Lions for Career Achievement at every future edition of the Film Festival, starting this year. One will be given to a director or someone from the world of film production; the second will be awarded to an actor or an actress, i.e., to someone who belongs to the world of acting.
Jean-Paul Belmondo, an icon of French and international cinema, is one of the actors who best interpreted the hallmark modernity of the Nouvelle Vague in his representation of alienated characters, inLeda (À double tour, 1959) by Claude Chabrol; Breathless (1960) and Pierrot le Fou (1965, presented in Competition at the Venice Film Festival), both by Jean-Luc Godard; or Mississippi Mermaid (1969) by François Truffaut. In particular, in his portrayal of Michel Poiccard/László Kovács in Breathless, Belmondo brought to the fore the figure of the provocative and seductive antihero, a far cry from the Hollywood stereotypes on which Godard himself had based the character. His extroverted acting style secured him some of the best roles in French gangster movies, such as in The Big Risk (1960) by Claude Sautet, Le Doulos (1962)by Jean-Pierre Melville and Hit Man (1972)by José Giovanni, and he achieved enormous success in many of his later movies, fromThat Man from Rio (1964) by Philippe de Broca to The Night Caller (1975) by Henri Verneuil, from The Professional (1981) by Georges Lautner toItinerary of a Spoiled Child (1988) by Claude Lelouch. Says Festival Director Alberto Barbera, “Thanks to his fascinating face, irresistible charm and extraordinary versatility, he has played roles in dramas, adventure movies and even comedies, making him a star who is universally respected, by engagé directors and escapist cinema alike.”
Says Festival Director Alberto Barbera, “Jerzy Skolimowski is one of the most representative exponents of the modern cinema born during the nouvelles vagues of the 1960s. He and Roman Polanski are the two filmmakers who contributed most to the renewal of Polish cinema during that same period.” Polanski himself (who called him in to write the screenplay of his debut movie, Knife in the Water) predicted: “Skolimowski will stand head and shoulders above his generation.” Actually, the fifty year career of the “boxing poet” (as he was dubbed by Andrezj Munk, Skolimowski’s cinematographic “father”), during which he made seventeen feature-length films, has been anything but easy, and his opus was marked by continuous moves – from Poland to Belgium, from England to the United States, before returning to his homeland less than ten years ago. Although his body of works is seemingly stateless, due to heterogeneous and apparently dissimilar production styles, each one of his movies is actually highly personal and original. The trilogy he made in Poland during his debut years – Rysopis (1964), Walkover (1965) and Barrier (1966) – were to the Eastern Bloc countries what Godard’s earliest movies were to Western cinema, whereas his later masterpieces – The Departure (1967, Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival), Deep End(1970), The Shout (1978, Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival), Hands Up! (1981) and Moonlighting (1982, Best Screenplay at Cannes Film Festival) – are still top examples of a type of cinema which is modern, free and innovative, radically nonconformist and bold. The last films he made after returning to his homeland – Four Nights With Anna (2008), Essential Killing (2010, Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival), presented in competition at the Venice Film Festival as his following movie 11 Minutes (2015) – display an unexhausted and surprising capacity for renewal which rightfully places him among the most combative and original directors of contemporary cinema.
The line-up of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival will be announced during the official press conference to be held in Rome, at the Hotel Excelsior, on Thursday 28th of July 2016, 11 am.