Recent editions: 2000-2008
In 1999, the Sala Perla alongside the historic Palazzo del Cinema was restructured and expanded (seating for 580), seating in the PalaBNL was increased to 1700, and the Palazzo del Casinò cinemas reserved for journalists and professionals from the world of cinema were enlarged, to an overall surface area of 11,000 sq.m.
Alberto Barbera, director of the Festival from 1999 to 2001, created the section "Cinema del Presente" in parallel to the customary competition. He embarked on a double course of action. In addition to the Golden Lion we had the Lion of the Year aimed to highlight debut films and fringe feature films, as well as works comparable to genres and current productions, with innovative intentions and creative originality. All of the Golden Lions assigned during Barbera's concluding period went to films from the East: Not One Less by Zhang Yimou, The Circle by Jafar Panahi, and Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair.
The 2002 and 2003 editions were directed by Moritz de Hadeln. In 2002, Peter Mullan's The Magdalene Sisters won the Golden Lion; the collective film 11'09''01 - September 11 also raised much attention and debate. In 2003, Woody Allen landed on the Lido to open the fest with his Anything Else, and many other stars followed by, including George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Intolerable Cruelty), Sean Penn and Naomi Watts (21 Grams), Anthony Hopkins (The Human Stain), Salma Hayek and Johnny Depp (Once upon a time in Mexico), Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), Tim Robbins (Code 46), and Nicolas Cage (Matchstick Men).
Andrej Zvjagintsev's Vozvrašcenje (The Return) won the Golden Lion.
In 2004, Marco Müller was appointed as director of the Cinema section. The festival awarded Manoel de Oliveira and Stanley Donen with the Golden Lion for Career Achievement. Mike Leigh's Vera Drake won the Golden Lion for best film. A retrospective section was dedicated to the Secret History of Italian Cinema, whose first segment Italian Kings of the B's was also presented in Tokyo, Milan, and London.
In 2005, Müller brought to the Lido a number of celebrities including Tsui Hark, George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh, Ang Lee, Jeremy Irons, Monica Bellucci, Susan Sarandon, Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Ron Howard, Isabelle Huppert, Anthony Hopkins, Abel Ferrara, Stefania Rocca, John Turturro, Charlotte Rampling, Tim Burton, Emmanuelle Seigner, Ralph Fiennes, and Valeria Golino among others. The retrospective section was dedicated to the Secret History of Asian Cinema, Hayao Miyazaki and Stefania Sandrelli were awarded with the Golden Lion for Career Achievement, and Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain won the Golden Lion for best film.
Stars who walked down the red carpet in 2006 included: Ben Affleck, Sabine Azema, Juliette Binoche, Kenneth Branagh, Adrien Brody, Sandra Bullock, Jackie Chan, Laura Dern, Aaron Eckhart, Emilio Estevez, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Josh Hartnett, Anne Hathaway, Ethan Hawke, Bob Hoskins, Jeremy Irons, Scarlett Johansson, Mia Kirshner, Diane Lane, Lindsay Lohan, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Christian Slater, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Rachel Weisz, James Wilby, Lambert Wilson, and Zhang Ziyi.
Retrospective sections were dedicated to the Secret History of Russian Cinema and to Joaquim Pedro de Andrade. David Lynch was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, and Jia Zhangke's Still Life won the Golden Lion for Best Film.
In 2007, the Venice Film Festival celebrated its 75th anniversary. Director Alexander Kluge, who was also born in 1932 and the winner in Venice of two Golden Lions and one Silver Lion, prepared a special retrospective program on the last 75 years in the history of cinema. A special award was created, the Golden Lion of the 75th edition, and presented to Bernardo Bertolucci. The other main awards went to Tim Burton, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, and to Ang Lee, who won the Golden Lion for best film (Lust, Caution) for the second time in the three latest editions. The retrospective section was dedicated to Spaghetti Western and presented 40 famous film belonging to that genre. The red carpet of this edition was scattered with stars such as Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Susan Sarandon, Richard Gere, Fanny Ardant, Nikita Mikhalkov, Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, Takeshi Kitano, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, and Charlize Theron, just to name the main protagonists.
In 2008, the 65th edition, headed by Marco Müller, presented Ermanno Olmi the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. The These Phantoms: Italian Cinema Rediscovered (1946-1975) retrospective was curated by Tatti Sanguineti and Sergio Toffetti and comprised the screening of about 30 films made during the three finest decades of Italian cinema. Lots of stars, as usual, during the 11 days of the festival: among them, Mickey Rourke, Charlize Theron, Silvio Orlando, Francesca Neri, Isabella Ferrari, Anne Hathaway, Valerio Mastandrea, Stefania Sandrelli, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt. The Venezia 65 international jury, chaired by Wim Wenders, awarded the Golden Lion for Best Film to The Wrestler by Darren Aronofsky.