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la Biennale di Venezia
Main Visual Sezione Cinema EN (new)


66th Venice International Film Festival

Director Marco Müller

2 > 12 September 2009

International Juries

Venezia Opera Prima Prize
Haile Gerima (Ethiopia) President
Born in 1946 in Gondar, Ethiopia, Haile Gerima studied acting at his father’s theater company, specializing in traditional Ethiopian works. In 1967 he went to the USA where he joined the Black Power Movement. “The Black Movement made me come out of my submissive colonial position. Since then I have developed the theme of returning, traveling: All my films are on the subject of returning.” In 1971 he made his first film Hour Glass followed by Child of Resistance the following year. In 1976 he went back to Africa to film Mirt sost shi amit (Harvest: 3,000 Years), a condemnation of the living conditions of Ethiopian peasants. The film received the Grand Prix of the Jury at Locarno. In 1976 he was also at Howard University Washington where many young filmmakers study, studying the history of the African diaspora from the local population’s point of view. In 1982 he founded Mypheduh Films (MFI) with the aim of restoring the balance in the distribution system. He was therefore able to distribute his later films together with those of other Afro-American or African cinema lovers. Thanks to this independent production and distribution Haile Gerima is a truly independent, militant director. In 2008 Teza won the Special Prize of the Jury at the Venice Film Festival together with numerous other prestigious awards at other international festivals.   
Ramin Bahrani (USA)
Born in America in 1975, the director Ramin Bahrani graduated from Columbia University in New York before moving to his parents’ homeland. Here he completed his thesis film Strangers (2000). Bahrani then lived in Paris before returning to the USA where he made his first long feature film, Man Push Cart, presented at the 2005 Venice Film Festival and then at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. The film won numerous awards and was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards. His second film Chop Shop (2007) was presented at the 2007 Cannes Festival as part of the Directors’ Fortnight section and then in Toronto (2007) and Berlin (2008) before being distributed with great critical success in the cinemas. His next long feature film, Goodbye Solo won the FIPRESCI Award at the 2008 Venice Film Festival. It was then presented at the festivals of Toronto, London, and Vienna. In the United States especially the film has gained particular success, becoming a symbol for new and small independent films with tiny budgets, which gain a distribution thanks to film festivals, universities and blogs.    
Gianni Di Gregorio (Italy)
Gianni Di Gregorio was born in Rome where he lives and works. After completing his classical studies, he graduated in direction and acting at the Accademia di Arti Sceniche in Rome, directed by Alessandro Fersen, where he worked with later in his laboratory of experimental research for three years. After seeing the film Mean Streets by Martin Scorsese he decided to abandon the theatre and work in the cinema as assistant director. He then began working in the field of scriptwriting. Amongst other scripts, he wrote Sembra morto... ma è solo svenuto (by Felice Farina), which was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize at the Critics’ Week at the Venice Film Festival in 1987 and Giovanni senzapensieri (by Marco Colli), which was presented at the Director’s Fortnight of Cannes in 1987. He then met Matteo Garrone and worked for him as assistant director in 2000 on Estate romana, L’imbalsamatore (The Embalmer, 2002) and Primo amore (First Love, 2004). In 2007 he co-wrote the script of the film Gomorra (Gomorrah) that received the Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival and the European Film Award. With his first longfeature film as director, Pranzo di ferragosto (Mid-August Lunch, 2008) he won the Leone del Futuro Premio Opera Prima “Luigi De Laurentiis” at the 65th Venice Film Festival, the David di Donatello as best debut director, the Satyajit Ray Award at The Times BFI London Film Festival and the prize as best debut director at the Silver Ribbon.   
Antoine Fuqua (USA)
Originally from Pittsburgh, Antoine Fuqua studied Engineering and Fine Arts at West Virginia University before moving to New York in 1987 where he directed video-clips with artists such as Toni Braxton, Coolio, Stevie Wonder, Usher and many others. Fuqua worked together with Propaganda Films where his narrative sensitivity won him numerous prizes, making him one of the most sought after directors of musical and commercial videos. He had his debut on the silver screen in 1998 with a feature film called The Replacement Killers. In 2001 Fuqua established his reputation as a director with a unique and visionary talent with the highly successful Training Day, recounting a day in the life of a corrupt policeman. The film, presented out of competition at the 58th Venice Film Festival, starred Denzel Washington, who won an Academy Award as best starring actor for his performance, and Ethan Hawke, nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor. Specializing in metropolitan action-thrillers, he also made his name in films of war (Tears of the Sun, 2003), and history (King Arthur, 2004). In 2006 he directed The Call, a spot/short for Pirelli, starring Naomi Campbell and John Malkovich, and other advertising spots for American and other clients, including Armani, Reebok, Nike (Jordan Brand) and GMC. Fuqua continues directing films for important production houses as well as doing projects with his company, Fuqua Films.   
Sam Taylor-Wood (UK)
Sam Taylor-Wood was born in London in 1967, she graduated from Goldsmiths College and was identified as a member of the Young British Artist’s Movement. She has had numerous worldwide group and solo exhibitions, including being nominated for the Turner Prize (1998) and winning the Most Promising Young Artist, at the 48. International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale (1997). Solo exhibitions include Kunsthalle Zurich (1997), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek (1997), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (1999), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2000), Hayward Gallery, London (2002), State Russian Museum, St Petersburg (2004), MCA, Moscow (2004), BALTIC, Gateshead (2006), MCA Sydney (2006) MoCA Cleveland (2007) and the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (2007). In 2008, Taylor-Wood directed her first narrative short film Love You More written by Patrick Marber and produced by Anthony Minghella, which was screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also nominated for a BAFTA in 2009. This year sees her feature film directorial debut with Nowhere Boy a film about John Lennon’s teenage years that is set for worldwide release early next year.