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The International Juries of the 61st Venice Fest

The international juries of the 61st Venice Film Festival
Venezia 61. - Venezia Orizzonti - Venezia Cinema Digitale

Venezia 61 - Golden Lion
John Boorman (UK, President). Director. He began his career as a documentary filmmaker in 1955 at the BBC. He won the Best Director Award at Cannes in 1998 for The General (the story of an Irish criminal) and in 1970 for Leo the Last (with Marcello Mastroianni). What stands out in his work is his great iconographic and narrative talent. Since his first American production, Point Blank (1967), followed by the anti-military Hell in the Pacific (1969), Boorman has managed to blend social situations, art and entertainment. The immensely successful Deliverance (1972, nominated for an Oscar), a thriller based on the conflict between nature and society, was the beginning of Boorman's personal journey through the genres of American film: the science fiction of Zardoz (1973), the fantasy of Excalibur (1981, a Tolkien rereading of the legend of King Arthur), the horror of Exorcist II: The Heretic (1983), the adventure of The Emerald Forest (1985), as well as history and social questions dealt with in his work during the 1980s and 1990s (Hope and Glory, 1987; Where the Heart Is, 1990; Beyond Rangoon, 1995; The Tailor of Panama, 2001; Country of My Skull, 2004, which dealt with apartheid in South Africa).

Wolfgang Becker (Germany). Director. He graduated from the Deutsche Film und Fernsehakademie in Berlin with the feature film Butterflies (1988), winner of the Golden Leopard in Lucerne. In 1992 he made the documentary Celibidache and the feature film Child's Play, winner of the Silver Leopard, followed by his third feature-length film, Life Is All You Get (1997), in competition at the Berlin Film Festival. His most recent work Good Bye, Lenin! (2003), a bitter-sweet comedy set during the delicate phase of German reunification, earned him international fame and went on to win Best European Film at the European Awards, a Blue Angel at the Berlin Film Festival and Best European Film at the César as well as being nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Mimmo Calopresti (Italy). Director. He trained as a social documentary filmmaker, and in 1994 won the Solinas Award for his screenplay The Second Time, which appeared on the big screen a year later, about the relationship between a university lecturer (Nanni Moretti) and the ex terrorist (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) who had injured him. In 1997 he made La parola amore esiste, which opened the "Quinzaine des Réalisateurs" and won the Nastro d'Argento for best original screenplay. After Preferisco il rumore del mare (2000), about a southern Italian youth living in northern Italy, in 2002 he made, and starred in, La felicità non costa niente, playing a 40-year-old who decides to change his life. Calopresti's latest project is a documentary about the Holocaust, produced by Steven Spielberg for the Shoah Foundation established by the American director.

Scarlett Johansson (USA). Actress. She had her first important role at the age of fourteen in Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer (1998). She also appeared to great international acclaim in Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World (2001) and the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There (2001). In 2003 she received accolades for her role in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, presented at the 60th Venice Film Festival. More recently she has appeared on the big screen in the role of Griet, Vermeer's muse, in Peter Webber's Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), and we will be seeing her shortly in many new productions, including The Perfect Store (2004) by Brian Robbins, Synergy (2005) by Paul Weitz, The Black Dahlia (2005) by Brian De Palma, Mission: Impossible 3 by Joe Carnahan (2005), and Woody Allen's latest project.

Spike Lee (USA). Director. The son of a jazz musician, Lee studied at the New York University Film School with Martin Scorsese, graduating with a short film (Joe's Bed - Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, 1983) that earned him an Oscar. In 1986 he enjoyed great success with his first feature-length film, Lola Darling (Young Director Prize at the Cannes Film Festival). Deeply proud of his Afro-American identity, he was soon established as the greatest exponent of Black Cinema, describing the ghetto in Do the Right Thing (1989, Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay) and brought Black American icons to the big screen in Mo' Better Blues (1990) and Malcolm X (1992, starring Denzel Washington who won Best Actor at the Berlin Film Festival and who was nominated for an Oscar). He dealt with the theme of ethnic communities in Jungle Fever (1991, Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Actor Award for Samuel L. Jackson) and Summer of Sam (1999). His more recent films include: Crooklyn (1994), Clockers (1995), Girl 6 (1996), Get on the Bus (1996, Special Mention at the Berlin Film Festival), the documentary 4 Little Girls (1997, nominated for an Oscar), He Got Game (1998), Bamboozled (2000), and The 25th Hour (2002), winning in competition at the Berlin Film Festival in 2003.

Dušan Makavejev (Serbia-Montenegro). Director. After graduating in Psychology, he earned critical acclaim with his first film Man Is Not a Bird (1965), one of the most innovative films of the 1960s. An irreverent filmmaker, with The Switchboard Operator (1967) he stood out for his unusual methods of "estrangement", mixing fiction and documentary. This was a personal style that he went on to perfect in films such as Innocence Unprotected (1968), followed by others that contributed to the history of new Yugoslavian film. However, it was with W.R. - Mysteries of the Organism (1971), a Yugoslav-German co-production, and Sweet Movie (1974), made in France, that Makavejev made his mark as one of the greatest and most unconventional stateless directors. On an international odyssey that has also seen him teach film in the USA, he made Montenegro Tango in Sweden in 1981, The Coca Cola Kid in Australia in 1985, Manifesto in the Balkans in 1988, and Gorilla Bathes at Noon in Germany in 1992. Hole in the Soul (1994) was a profound reflection on the state of his homeland. He was artistic advisor of the Biennale's retrospective of Balkan film La meticcia di fuoco (2000), curated by Sergio Grmek Germani.

Helen Mirren (UK). Actress. She began her career on stage with Britain's National Youth Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She made her film debut in Peter Hall's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968), and alternated between theater and movies from then on, costarring in Age of Consent (1969), Savage Messiah (1972), O Lucky Man! (1973), Hussy and Caligula (both 1980) before her role as gangster Bob Hoskins' mistress in The Long Good Friday (1981). She went on to give impressive performances in John Boorman's Excalibur (1981) and won a Cannes Best Actress Award for her portrayal of an Irish widow in Cal (1984). Other films include White Nights (1985), The Mosquito Coast (1986), Pascali's Island (1988), and Peter Greenaway's highly controversial The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989). She also starred in The Comfort of Strangers (1991), The Hawk (1993), and most notably, in The Madness of King George (1994), for which she received a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Her latest performances include Robert Altman's Gosford Park (2001) and Nigel Cole's Calendar Girls (2003).

Pietro Scalia (Italy). Editor. After attending the UCLA Film School and working with Andrei Konchalovsky (Shy People, 1987) and Oliver Stone (Wall Street, 1987; Talk Radio, 1988; Born on the 4th of July, 1989; The Doors, 1991), he was finally consecrated as one of the best international editors when he won an Oscar for Oliver Stone's JFK (1991), a film that - thanks to extraordinary editing - combines such diverse material as both black and white and colour footage shot on film and video, amateur footage and professional film clips from the era. He worked with Bernardo Bertolucci on Little Buddha (1993) and Stealing Beauty (1996), with Sam Raimi (The Quick and the Dead, 1995), Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, 1997) and more recently he has applied his masterful touch to editing Ridley Scott's G.I. Jane (1997), Gladiator (2000, nominated for an Oscar for Editing), and Black Hawk Down (2001), for which he earned his second Oscar in 2002.

Xu Feng (China). Actress and producer. She was one of the greatest divas of Asian cinema, starring in famous cloak-and-dagger films such as Dragon Gate Inn (1966) and King Hu's A Touch of Zen (1969), an Asian film classic that won the Major Technical Award at Cannes in 1975. She appeared in almost forty films during the 1970s, specialising in kung fu and melodrama. In the 1980s she became a film producer. Many of the films she has produced have helped put Asian film on the international map (such as Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine, Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993).

Venezia Orizzonti
Alfonso Cuarón (Mexico, President). Born in Mexico City in 1961, he studied cinema and philosophy at the Independent National University of Mexico. He began his career in the cinema as assistant director, and directed many TV programmes before working on his first feature film, Sólo con tu pareja, which broke the box office records in Mexico in 1992. Murder Obliquely, an episode from the TV series, "Fallen Angels", brought him the Cable Ace for best directing in 1993. His successive work, A Little Princess (1995), an adaptation from the Victorian novel, took him to Hollywood, where he was immediately acclaimed for the dreamy style he brought to films. Here he made his third feature film, Great Expectations (1998), inspired by Charles Dickens' classic. In 2001, Cuarón returned to his country of birth with Y tu mamá también, competing in the Venice Film Festival. The film won two awards from the jury presided over by Nanni Moretti: for best screenplay (written by Cuarón himself) and, ex aequo, the Premio Marcello Mastroianni to the two young protagonists, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. The image-rich, effective style of directing adopted by Cuarón led him to work on a blockbuster in 2004: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Here, the Mexican director stands out for the gothic atmosphere and spine-tingling phantasmagoria, and not a few critics as a result deemed Cuarón's episode from the Harry Potter saga to be the finest.

Nicolas Philibert (France). Director. After graduating in Philosophy he took his first steps in French cinema alongside René Allio, Alain Tanner and Claude Goretta, as an actor, assistant director and producer. In 1978 he directed the documentary La voix de son maître together with Gérard Mordillat, and also directed and acted in the comedy Vive la sociale! (1983). He also appeared in other productions during the 1980s. In 1991 he made the TV documentary Patrons/Télévision that exposed a dozen major industrialists, earning him the wrath of the censors. His documentary In the Land of the Deaf (1992), a story of great emotional intensity, earned him international critical acclaim. For his more recent To Be and to Have (2002), an affectionate look at school life in rural France, he won many international awards including the César and Felix European Film Prize.

Fiorella Infascelli (Italy). Director, actress and screenwriter. Daughter of the producer Carlo, she was born in Rome and began her working life as a photographer. In 1973 she had a part in Emidio Greco's film L'invenzione di Morel (1974), before going on to work as assistant director on Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975). In 1980 she made the TV movie Ritratto di una donna distesa and finally moved onto the big screen with The Mask (1988), starring Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Moloney, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. In 1991 she wrote and directed Zuppa di pesce with Philippe Noiret and Chiara Caselli. She returned to TV with Conversazione italiana (1999), about Italian poets and writers, presented at Venice in the "New Territories" section, and the following year she made the documentary Ferreri, I love you. She wrote and directed the feature Il vestito da sposa, starring Maya Sansa, Andrea di Stefano and Piera degli Espositi, which was released in 2003. Her brother is the producer Roberto and her nephew is Alex, the director of Almost Blue.

Venezia Cinema Digitale
Mike Figgis (UK, president). Director, screenwriter and composer. He studied music in London before forming a rhythm and blues band. He made his directorial debut in 1984 with the TV film The House. In 1988 he wrote and directed Stormy Monday (Special Mention at the Mystfest), a musical noir starring Sting. Public and critical acclaim arrived in 1990 when he directed Internal Affairs with Richard Gere, followed by the surrealist Mr. Jones (1993). In 1996 Leaving Las Vegas earned him two Oscar nominations (Best Director and Best Screenplay), with Nicolas Cage winning an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as the alcoholic ex-screenwriter. In 1997 One Night Stand was released, earning Wesley Snipes the Coppa Volpi at the Venice Film Festival, followed by Miss Julie, based on Strindberg's play. With Timecode (2000), Figgis began experimenting with digital film, followed by Hotel (2001), filmed entirely on the Venice Lido. Figgis's musical roots have emerged during the course of his filmmaking career, personally writing all his film scores and arrangements. In 2003, after returning to the noir genre with Cold Creek Manor, Figgis presented his episode of the series The Blues (entitled Red White and Blues), at the Venice Film Festival.

Shozo Ichiyama (Japan). Producer. In 1989 he was involved in Takeshi Kitano's Violent Cop, and in 1991 he produced Naoto Takenaka's Muno no hito, which won the Fipresci Prize at the Venice Film Festival. Since 1994 he has worked with the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien, for whom he produced Haonan haonü (1995), Nanguo zaijan, nanguo (1996) and Hai shang hua (1998). In 2000 he produced Samira Makhmalbaf's Blackboards and Jia Zhang-ke's Platform (Zhantai), presented at the Venice Film Festival. In the same year he founded Tokyo Filmex, the new Tokyo film festival for new cinematic trends, of which he is also the director. In 2001 he produced Abolfazl Jalili's Delbaran and the following year Jia Zhang-ke's Unknown Pleasures (Ren xiao yao). Since 2003 he has run Office Kitano's Oper Prima. Shozo Ichiyama's latest production is Jia Zhangke's The World and, like many of his previous films, is filmed in high definition.

Claire Simon (Morocco-France). Director. She was born in Morocco, moving to France at the age of 5. An autodidact and 1970s militant, initially she focussed on editing, most notably working on Alain Bergala and Jean-Pierre Limosin's Faux Fuyants (1982). In 1988 she made a short film, La police, followed by Scènes de ménage, a series of 10 shorts with Miou-Miou. She has also made many documentaries, including Récréations and Coûte que coûte, the latter about a small business that cannot survive market laws. After Sinon, oui (1997) and Ça, c'est vraiment toi (2000), two feature-length films, she returned to making feature-length documentaries in high definition: 800 km de différence, in which she filmed her daughter and a friend, and in 2003 her latest work Mimi, which documents the life and loves of her old friend Mimi Chiola. She has also performed in Marie-Claude Treilhou's film Un petit cas de conscience.


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