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Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement

The Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement

Canadian director David Cronenberg and British actress Vanessa Redgrave have been awarded the Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement at the 75th International Film Festival of the Biennale di Venezia (August 29 – September 8, 2018). The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, who espoused the proposal made by the Festival Director, Alberto Barbera.

David Cronenberg

Accepting the award, David Cronenberg declared:I’ve always loved the Golden Lion of Venice. A lion that flies on golden wings –that’s the essence of art, isn’t it? The essence of cinema. It will be almost unbearably thrilling to receive a Golden Lion of my own.”


With regard to this prize, Alberto Barbera declared: “Although Cronenberg was originally relegated to the margins of the horror genre, right from his first, scandalously subversive movies, the director has shown that he wants to take his audiences well beyond the cinema of exploitation, as he constructs an original and highly personal structure, movie after movie. Revolving around the inseparable relationship of body, sex, and death, his universe is populated by grotesque deformities and terrifying couplings, a horror which reflects the fear of mutations inflicted on bodies by science and technology, of disease and physical decay, of the unresolved conflict between spirit and flesh. Violence, sexual transgression, confusion between what is real and what is virtual, the image’s deforming role in contemporary society: these are a few of the recurring themes which have helped make him one of the most daring and stimulating filmmakers ever, a tireless innovator of forms and languages.”


Director David Cronenberg’s reputation as an authentic auteur has been firmly established by his uniquely personal body of work which includes: Shivers, Rabid, Fast Company, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Crash, eXistenz, The Dead Zone, M. Butterfly, Spider, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars. In 1991, Cronenberg was nominated for the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival for Naked Lunch and won this award in 1999 for eXistenZ. Cronenberg’s films Crash, Spider, A History of Violence and Cosmopolis have all been in competition for the Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1996, Crash received a Special Jury Prize from the Festival. Most recently, in 2011, A Dangerous Method was nominated for a Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival.

Frequently lauded as one of the world’s greatest and most influential directors, Cronenberg’s films have earned him critical praise and recognition internationally. In 1999, he presided over the Cannes Film Festival jury and in 2006, was awarded the Festival’s lifetime achievement award, the Carrosse d'Or. Collectively, his films have been nominated for seven Golden Globes; received BAFTA and France’s César Award nominations for A History of Violence and Eastern Promises; four Academy Award nominations; prizes from the Toronto International Film Festival, Directors Guild of Canada and Canada’s Genie Awards. Cronenberg’s short film, At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World, in which he also stars, was created for the Chacun son cinema collection of films commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Cannes International Film Festival. Other special commissions include Camera (2000), created for the 25th anniversary of the Toronto International Film (TIFF) and The Nest (2013) as part of TIFF’s David Cronenberg Evolution exhibition and retrospective.

In 2006, Cronenberg worked with the Art Gallery of Ontario as a guest curator for the exhibition, Andy Warhol/Supernova: Stars, Deaths and Disasters, 1962-1964. David created an innovative soundtrack audio guide with additional commentary by several of Warhol’s contemporaries. Further challenging himself outside the realm of film, David brought the opera of the The Fly to the stage for the Théâtre du Châtelet and LA Opera in 2008. Turning his hand to fiction in 2014, David debuted his first novel, Consumed. The inventive and disturbing work was mounted as a stage play by Theatre Bremen in 2015 and is currently being developed for television. Recognition of Cronenberg’s contribution to art and culture has included an appointment as an Officer to the Order of Canada in 2003, a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2014, investiture in France’s Order of Arts and Letters in 1990 and the Légion d’Honneur in 2009. Cronenberg was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in 2011.

Vanessa Redgrave

Accepting the award, Vanessa Redgrave declared: “I am astonished and especially delighted to hear that I will be awarded by the Venice Film Festival for a life’s work in film. Last summer I was filming in Venice in The Aspern Papers. Many many years ago I filmed La vacanza in the marshes of the Veneto. My character spoke every word in the Venetian dialect. I bet I am the only non-Italian actress to act an entire role in Venetian dialect! Thank you a million dear Festival!”


With regard to this prize, Alberto Barbera declared: “Unanimously considered one of today’s best actresses, Redgrave’s sensitive, infinitely faceted performances ideally render complex and often controversial characters. Gifted with a natural elegance, innate seductive power, and extraordinary talent, she can nonchalantly pass from European art house cinema to lavish Hollywood productions, from the stage to TV sets, each time offering top-quality results. In the sixty years of her professional activity, her performances have displayed authoritativeness and total control over the roles she plays, a boundless and highly sophisticated generosity, and a healthy dose of the courage and fighting spirit which are a hallmark of her compassionate, artistic nature.”


Born into a thespian family, nominated six times for an Oscar (she won in 1977 for her performance in Julia), and the winner of a Volpi Cup in Venice in 1994 for Little Odessa, for 60 years, Vanessa Redgrave has been one of the best-loved and most-sought-after actresses of international art house cinema. A stage actress as well, she has won a Tony Award and an Olivier Award for best actress.

Among her most recent works, in 2018 she performed in The Aspern Papers by Julian Landais, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Joely Richardson; Mrs Lowry & Son by Adrian Noble, with Timothy Spall; and Georgetown by Christoph Waltz, with Annette Bening. In 2017, she directed and starred in Sea Sorrow with Ralph Fiennes and Emma Thompson (produced by Carlo Nero) and she performed at the Young Vic Theatre in The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez, produced by Sonia Friedman and directed by Stephen Daldry.

Redgrave was born in London in 1937 and studied acting at London’s Central School of Music and Dance. Her family has a long and glorious tradition in film and on the stage. Her paternal grandfather, Roy Redgrave, was one of Australia’s most famous silent movie actors. Her father, Michael, and her mother, Rachel Kempson, were members of the Old Vic Theater. Her father, in particular, was also a well-known movie actor. Right from an early age, Vanessa was a successful stage actress and she debuted on the silver screen alongside her father in 1958 in the comedy Behind the Mask. She then dedicated herself to theatre and became a member of the Stratford-upon-Avon Theater Company. This is where she met director Tony Richardson, who, in the early 1960s, became her husband and directed her in Shakespeare plays. In 1966, Redgrave returned to the silver screen in Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment, by Karel Reisz, which won her the award for best actress at Cannes and her first Oscar nomination. Always in 1966, she performed in Blow-up by Michelangelo Antonioni. The topic of incommunicability, one of the Italian director’s favorites, found a perfect interpreter in that young, enigmatic woman who can express herself almost without speaking. One year later, Joshua Logan brought her to the United States to shoot Camelot, after which Vanessa returned to Europe for two more films directed by Richardson, The Sailor from Gibraltar, and in 1968, The Charge of the Light Brigade. That same year, she portrayed the non-conformist ballerina Isadora Duncan in Isadora (1968) by Karel Reisz (her second Oscar nomination). In 1971, she played the unlucky queen in Mary, Queen of Scots (1971, her third nomination for an Oscar), a nun in The Devils by Ken Russel,  and a girl confined in a madhouse in Vacation by Tinto Brass, which stars Franco Nero and was presented at the Venice Film Festival. Vanessa Redgrave won an Oscar for her performance as the brave and headstrong Julia (1977), by Fred Zinnemann. In 1984, James Ivory directed her in The Bostonians (another Oscar nomination) and in 1985 she played the lonely teacher in Wetherby (1985) by David Hare. She received her sixth Oscar nomination for her portrayal of sensitive Ruth Wilcox in Howard’s End (1992), once again by James Ivory. In 1994, she received the Volpi Cup in Venice for Little Odessa by James Gray. She played the bitter protagonist in Mrs Dalloway (1997) by Marleen Gorris and in 2007 she starred in Atonement by Joe Wright, the opening film at the Venice Film Festival that year.

Biennale Cinema
Biennale Cinema