Double Oscar winner Roberto Benigni, a renowned actor-filmmaker, will receive this year’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 78th Venice International Film Festival. The festival in physical format will take place from September 1-11, 2021. Right from his debut, marked by his innovative and irreverent approach to rules and traditions, Roberto Benigni stands out in the panorama of the Italian performing arts.
The decision was made by the board of La Biennale di Venezia, which embraced the proposal of the Festival’s Director, Alberto Barbera.
Alberto Barbera said, “Right from his debut, marked by his innovative and irreverent approach to rules and traditions, Roberto Benigni stands out in the panorama of the Italian performing arts as an unprecedented and unequaled figure of reference.
Juggling his appearances on theatrical stages, movie sets, and television studios, each time with surprising results, he shines in all of them thanks to his exuberance and impetuosity, his generous way with the public, and the passionate joyfulness that is perhaps the most original hallmark of his opus.”
He added: “With admirable eclecticism, and always true to form, he is one of the most extraordinary comedy actors in an admittedly rich gallery of Italian performers; a memorable director who makes enormously popular movies; and, his most recent transformation, one of the most esteemed performers and popularizers of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’.
Few artists have equaled his ability to combine explosive comic timing, which is often accompanied by irreverent satire, with his admirable talent as an actor – at the service of great directors such as Federico Fellini, Matteo Garrone, and Jim Jarmusch – and as an engaging and sophisticated literary exegete.”
Accepting the honour, Benigni said, “My heart is full of joy and gratitude. It is an immense honor to receive such an important recognition of my work from the Venice International Film Festival.”
Benigni was born in Misericordia (Castiglion Fiorentino, Arezzo) on October 27, 1952. He began his career in the early 1970s and soon became one of Italy’s most beloved and popular actors, directors, and screenwriters, well-known and appreciated throughout the world.
His film La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful, 1997), which he wrote and directed, received the 1998 Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and in 1999, of the seven Oscar nominations the movie received, it won Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor (as well as Best Music, awarded to Nicola Piovani). With the same film in 1999 he won the Screen Actor Guild and Bafta award as Best Actor. La vita è bella is Italian cinema’s most popular movie: 9.7 million spectators. And it goes down in the history of Italian cinema as the Italian movie that has totaled the highest number of spectators worldwide.
Valentina Merli and her team has put together a programme that would benefit the local Swiss film industry as well as global independent filmmakers
The Locarno Film Festival’s Locarno Pro industry side will have a strong virtual presence from August 5-11 offering opportunities for discussion, professional meetings on co-production and screenings to film industry professionals as a clear signal that the pandemic will continue to bring industry professionals under one umbrella. The 73rd Locarno Festival will take place from 5 to 15 August 2020.
Locarno Pro 2020 will be a virtual territory of meetings, exchanges and growth for auteur film professionals. “Industry professionals across the world will get to meet online and work towards a fresh start. The Locarno 2020 – for the Future of Films is a special edition, due to the Covid-19 situation, to continue to support and help independent cinema from all over the world. This is also what we want to do with Locarno Pro. It is important for us to maintain the presence in difficult moments,” says Valentina Merli, head of Locarno Pro.
This is the first market for Valentina Merli as head of Locarno Pro. She has taken over from Nadia Dresti, who continues to work with the Locarno Festival as a Festival’s International Advisor.
Valentina Merli and her team has put together a programme that would benefit the local Swiss film industry as well as global independent filmmakers. “We think that being online allow us to have a wider international professional audience, this is its main advantage,” says Valentina Merli in a Zoom chat with Pickle.
Locarno Pro will aim to enhance and deepen connections between the diverse players across the world. For seven days from August 5 to 11, Locarno Pro will propose initiatives and events that will accompany the industry in examining an undoubtedly difficult year, while seeking to develop ideas and proposals with an eye to the future, thus contributing to the overarching mission of Locarno 2020 – For the Future of Films.
Locarno Pro 2020 has also given Valentina Merli and her team an opportunity to think out of the box and reinvent activities. They have moved beyond discussing Covid-19 impact, but bring some visible changes to cinema, industry professionals and filmmakers.
Major highlights of Locarno Pro 2020 includes the ninth edition of the annual think-tank meeting StepIn; a roundtable to mark the launch of Locarno’s Heritage Online initiative; the SwissBiz Roundtable, aimed at the local film industry; and the Open Doors co-production platform and producers Lab.
“Heritage Online is a digital tool that extends the outreach and distribution of Heritage Films through VoD (Video on Demand), thereby significantly expanding the range of titles offered by such services,” explained Valentina Merli.
StepIn is one of the most renowned international think tanks imagining and discussing the way forward for the film industry. The virtual event will be hosted this year in the Variety Streaming Room, consisting of three 50-minute sessions taking place during the first three days of Locarno Pro (5-7 August, each starting at 5 pm Central European Time). These will deal, respectively, with the future of the theatrical distribution, the state of independent film production, and the future of film festivals and markets.
Each session will be moderated by key journalists from Variety and will involve top international speakers from varied sectors of the film industry, such as, to name a few: Producer Rodrigo Teixeira (‘Call Me By Your Name’, ‘Port Authority’); NEON’s President of Distribution Elissa Federoff; Film4’s Director Daniel Battsek; Director/Writer Kasi Lemmons (‘Harriet’); Marche du Cannes’ Executive Director Jérôme Paillard; and important Film Festival Directors such as Alberto Barbera (Venice Film Festival), Lili Hinstin (Locarno Film Festival) and Tabitha Jackson (Sundance Film Festival).
The SwissBiz Roundtable will bring local Swiss cinema professionals together on August 10 for a discussion on the challenges facing the film sector in the aftermath of corona virus pandemic and way forward. This roundtable will offer professionals in the Swiss film industry an analysis of this delicate historical moment in order to understand the trajectories and strategies that can help keep alive national auteur cinema. Five players of the Swiss industry moderated by Pascaline Sordet (Cinébulletin) will intervene as speakers: Joel Fioroni (Exhibitor, LUX art house), Andreas Furler (Founder and Managing Director, Cinefile), Karin Koch (Producer, Dschoint Ventschr Filmproduktion), Jela Škerlak (Head of Exhibition and Diversity and Eurimages Representative, Federal Office of Culture (FOC)), Thierry Spicher (Distributor, Outside The Box).
The Locarno Pro 2020 program has been supported by the Federal Office of Culture (FOC) / MEDIA Desk Suisse and the collaboration of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs for the Open Doors section.