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Marco Bellocchio Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement 2011

Marco Bellocchio, one of the greatest and most influential Italian filmmakers of recent decades, will be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 68th Venice International Film Festival (31 August – 10 September 2011).

The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta, on the recommendation of Venice Film Festival’s director Marco Müller.

In his presentation to the Board of Directors, Müller wrote: “With each new film, Marco Bellocchio leads you to yet another destination, different from those you thought you had already reached and discovered. A tireless traveler – carrying and steering ideas, and exploring the shifting boundaries between himself, cinema and history – he has used as his main compass the world that begins beyond visible reality (and within the unconscious). And so he has found more vital and ‘accurate’ means of expression to describe the urgency of various types of knowledge, individual and collective, fading or vanished.”

The new version of Bellocchio’s Nel nome del padre (In the Name of the Father, 1971) will be screened at the 68th Venice Film Festival, following the awards ceremony for the Golden Lion, in the Sala Grande at the Palazzo del Cinema. This version is not a restoration, but an entirely new, “current” work, culled by the director from the original film’s material. It is a singular director’s cut that, rather than lasting several minutes more, is actually shorter than the original: 90’ for this “redux” version of Nel nome del padre, as against the 105’ for the film released in 1971.

Marco Bellocchio
himself noted: “This was not an idée fixe (nothing obsessive about it), yet over these (forty) years I recurrently had the idea and came to the conviction that Nel nome del padre had not yet found its definitive form. Bearing evidence to this is the fact that, since its first public screening at the New York Film Festival in 1971, Nel nome del padre was re-edited four times, including this last revision. I felt a necessity that in the past I didn’t feel (for fear of being politically ambiguous, or perhaps for lack of an overall vision?) to free the images, to liberate them from their crushing, suffocating ideological weight… At the time that the film was made, to imagine freely was inconceivable. That’s why so many images full of words that judged, quoted, explained, and then reiterated the explanation, were dropped. In this later version, I curbed the expressions of much of the culture of those years for the benefit of the story, of the characters, and of the simpler and more direct personal relationships. I cut and shortened without adding a thing.
“The film has no shortage of political ‘inventions’, but despite their legitimacy (think for example of the class struggle between servants and priests, which I never witnessed during my experience at boarding school) maybe it lacks the passion, exaltation, faith and blindness that so sincerely possessed Eisenstein when he made his propaganda films, which by the way were and still remain masterpieces… “Evidently at the time I still felt obliged not to betray the revolutionary left that I had briefly joined… Freeing the images meant enhancing the light, warm, paradoxical, surreal, cruel even (though without being pointlessly sadistic), sarcastic, and mocking aspects of what emerges from the hypocrisy of the institutions… Of course the film, for the few who remember its first Italian version (which is actually the second), has not changed in terms of substance or meaning, has not been toned down in any way, and is not less violent; all one can say is that this final version Nel nome del padre is less reminiscent of Brecht and more of Vigo.”

Established as one of the leading figures of Italian cinema by his very first film, I pugni in tasca (Fists in the Pocket, 1965), Marco Bellocchio had to work very hard to “break free” of this onerous and unexpected success. He did so by delving into visionary excitement in Nel nome del padre (1971), narrative classicism in Marcia trionfale (Victory March, 1976), and psychological drama in Il gabbiano (1977). In Salto nel vuoto (A Leap in the Dark, 1980) he struck a remarkable balance between his penchant for great prose and his tension towards poetic cinema. This allowed him, starting with the incandescent Diavolo in corpo (Devil in the Flesh, 1986), to develop his research into a kind of cinema that captured the unconscious impulses, leading to the formalism of La condanna (The Conviction, 1991) and the experimentalism of Il sogno della farfalla (1994). By probing the darkness of the unconscious in Il principe di Homburg (The Prince of Homburg, 1977), Bellocchio sought to objectify the themes that have troubled and inspired him for so many years, which he later addressed in the past tense in La balia (The Nanny, 1999) and in the present tense in Buongiorno, notte (Good Morning, Night, 2003) and L’ora di religione (My Mother’s Smile, 2002).

In recent years he has created training and filmmaking opportunities for young students, notably at the “Fare Cinema” workshop he organizes every year in Bobbio, out of which came Sorelle mai, presented out of competition at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.

The worldwide success of Vincere (2009) confirms Marco Bellocchio’s standing, alongside Bernardo Bertolucci (honorary Golden Lion in 1975) and Ermanno Olmi (honorary Golden Lion in 2008), as one of the three major Italian screen directors still active today. According to many international observers, Bellocchio’s work embodies all that is most courageous and innovative in Italian cinema.

Marco Bellocchio
first participated at the Venice International Film Festival with his second film La Cina è vicina (China is Near, 1967), winning the Special Jury Prize. He ran with Matti da slegare (Fit to be Untied) in the “Proposte di Nuovi Film” section in 1975, with the medium-length film Vacanze in Valtrebbia (Vacation in Val Tribbia) in the “Officina Veneziana” category in 1980, and with Gli occhi, la bocca (The Eyes, the Mouth) in Competition in 1982. He participated twice in the 1990s with the short film Il sogno della farfalla (1992) and the medium-length film La religione e la storia (1998). In 1997 Bellocchio served as president of the “Corto Cortissimo” section jury, and in 1999 was a member of the Competition jury chaired by Emir Kusturica. Over the past decade, his medium-length film dedicated to Verdi entitled Addio del passato (2002) competed in the New Territories category, Buongiorno, notte (Good Morning, Night, 2003) won a special prize in Competition, and his Sorelle Mai (2010) was screened out of competition.