Shirin Neshat (Iran - President)
Iranian-born artist Shirin Neshat is known for her hauntingly beautiful explorations of Islam and gender relations. Over the past fifteen years, Neshat has created provocative expressions drawn on her personal experience in exile, and on the widening political and ideological rift between the West and the Middle East. Her potent statements in still and moving images evoke the struggles that define her. Born in Qazvin, one of the most religious cities in Iran, Shirin Neshat is perhaps the most famous contemporary artist to emerge from that country. Neshat left Iran just before the Islamic Revolution (1979) and the fall of the Shah. Her subsequent visits to Iran after the revolution led to the creation of a body of work which launched Neshat’s artistic career. However, since 1996 she has not been able to return to her country due to the controversial nature of her art. She has held numerous solo exhibitions at galleries and museums internationally, including: Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; the Serpentine Gallery, London; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Castello di Rivoli, Turin, and many others. Shirin has received various prizes, including the Golden Lion at 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, and the Lillian Gish Prize in 2006. Neshat’s first feature-length film Women Without Men (codirected by Shoja Azari) received the Silver Lion Award in the 66th Venice Film Festival in 2009.
Raja Amari (Tunisia)
Born in Tunis. After gaining a Master’s in French Literature from the University of Tunis, she attended the Fémis in Paris and a course in Cinema studies. She earned attention for her first short film, Avril (1998). In 2000, she produced a second short, Un soir de juillet. Her first feature film, Satin rouge (Red Satin), won her much acclaim from the public and the press: she received several awards, including Best Film at the Turin Festival and Prize for Best Debut Film at the Seattle Film Festival. Her second feature film, Les secrets (Dowaha), which won a number of awards in numerous festivals, was presented in the Orizzonti section at the 66th Venice Film Festival in 2009.
Lav Diaz (Philippines)
Born in 1958 in Datu Paglas, Diaz is considered the ideological father of New Philippine Cinema. His extraordinary trilogy Batang West Side (2002), Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang pilipino (2005) and Ikalawang aklat: ang alamat ng prinsesang bayawak (2006) is the archetype of an uncompromising cinema, severe and homogeneous. He studied Cinematography at the Mowelfund Film Institute (Philippines). His other works include Serafin Geronimo: kriminal ng Baryo Concepcion (1998), Burger Boys (1999), Hubad sa ilalim ng buwan (1999) and Hesus rebolusyunaryo (2002). Diaz, who lives between Manila and New York and who works with a studied stylistic and contextual consistency, is regarded as the spokesperson for the Philippine people’s struggle for redemption. He has won numerous international prizes, including Best Film at the Brussels Festival and at the Singapore Festival, and the Gawad Urian Best Film Critics’ Award for his debut film Batang West Side (2002). Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang pilipino (2005) won the Gawad Urian Critics’ Award, whilst Ikalawang aklat: ang alamat ng prinsesang bayawak (2006) won the Special Jury Prize at the Freiburg Festival. His most recent two works were presented at the Venice Film Festival: Kagadanan sa banwaan ning mga engkanto, about the apocalyptic consequences of Typhoon Reming, which hit the Philippines in 2006, earned a Special Mention in the Orizzonti section in 2007, whilst Melancholia won the Orizzonti Award in 2008.
Alexander Horwath (Austria)
Born in 1964 in Vienna, Austria, has been the director of the Österreichische Filmmuseum since 2002. He is the former director of the Viennale – Vienna International Film Festival (1992-97), and the curator of the Documenta 12 film programme in Kassel (2007). Starting out as a film critic in 1985, he has published articles and books on film- and art-related topics in Austria, Germany, France, Italy, the US, Australia, the Netherlands and Great Britain. He was the co-founder of “Filmlogbuch” magazine (1985-89) and the film editor for the daily “Der Standard” (1988-92). He has curated festival programmes, retrospectives and exhibitions in various countries. He was a consultant for the Turin Film Festival (1997-98) and for the Venice Biennale (1999-2001), among others. He has taught and lectured on Film at various universities and cultural institutions both in Austria and internationally. Alexander Horwath’s publications include: Cool: Pop, Politik, Hollywood 1960-68 (1994); The Last Great American Picture Show: New Hollywood 1967-76 (1995); Michael Haneke (1998, co-ed. Giovanni Spagnoletti); Peter Tscherkassky (2005, co-ed. Michael Loebenstein); Josef von Sternberg: The Case of Lena Smith (2007, co-ed. Michael Omasta) and Film Curatorship: Archives, Museums, and the Digital Marketplace (2008, co-ed. Paolo Cherchi Usai, David Francis, Michael Loebenstein).
Pietro Marcello (Italy)
Born in Caserta in 1976, Marcello is a close observer of the reality surrounding him. Self-taught, he was involved in various jobs and started his career from “the bottom”. He was a teacher in a prison in Naples, where he offered a sympathetic ear to those marginalized or ignored by society. Between 1998 and 2003, he worked as the organiser and planner of the Cinedamm film season at the Damm in Montesanto, Naples. In 2002, he made the radio documentary Il Tempo dei Magliari and the following year made the short films Carta and Scampia. In 2004, he began developing various documentaries, such as Il cantiere, La baracca (2005) and Grand Bassan (2005). In 2007, he directed Il passaggio della linea, presented at the 64th Venice Film Festival in the Orizzonti section and going on to win the Pasinetti Doc Award and the Doc/it Special Mention. Il passaggio della linea was also presented at various international festivals, where it received many critical accolades. Following his meeting with Enzo Motta, and thanks to the San Marcellino Jesuit foundation in Genoa, he made La bocca del lupo, a poetic documentary which tells the true love story between two ex-cons from Genoa: the emigrant Enzo and the transvestite Mary. The film, presented at various international festivals, garnered numerous important awards at the Turin Film Festival, the Festival Cinéma du Réel in Paris, the Berlin Film Festival and the Buenos Aires Festival. In Italy, he won the Nastro d’Argento and the David di Donatello for Best Documentary.