'Comeback' Venice film fest to open with Mattarella, Benigni

Almodovar's 'Madres Paralelas' with Penelope Cruz to start event

(ANSA) - ROME, SEP 1 - The Venice Film Festival makes its comeback from the COVID emergency that kept many stars away last year by opening Wednesday night in the presence of President Sergio Mattarella and with Life Is Beautiful star Roberto Benigni getting a career Golden Lion.
    The world's oldest film fest will run until September 11 when a jury chaired by Parasite director Bong Joon-ho will give the best of the 21 films in competition the coveted Golden Lion that last year went to Oscar winner Nomadland.
    Presenter and actress Serena Rossi will on Wednesday night introduce the director and star of the opening film Madres Paralelas, Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz.
    Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino's latest film, E' Stata la Mano di Dio' (It Was the Hand of God), is among five Italian movies that will be in the running for the Golden Lion.
    The others are Mario Martone's 'Qui Rido Io', Gabriele Mainetti's 'Freaks Out', Michelangelo Frammartino's 'Il buco' and 'America Latina,' a thriller by brothers Fabio and Damiano D'Innocenzo.
    Sorrentino's 2013 film La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
    E' Stata La Mano di Dio is his first semi-autobiographical work.
    Benigni, in accepting the lifetime achievement award when it was announced earlier this year, stated, "My heart is full of joy and gratitude. It is an immense honor to receive such an important recognition of my work from the Venice International Film Festival." His film La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful, 1997), which he wrote and directed, received the 1998 Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and in 1999, of the seven Oscar nominations the movie received, it won Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor (as well as Best Music, awarded to Nicola Piovani).
    Bong, the jury chair from South Korea, is an Academy Award-winning director and screenwriter, and one of the most original voices in contemporary film. He is the author of milestones in Korean cinema such as Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006) and Mother (2009). He won definitive international consecration in 2019 for Parasite, winner of a long series of prestigious acknowledgments including the Golden Palm at Cannes, a Golden Globe, a Critics Choice Award, two BAFTA and four Oscars© for Best Film, Best International Feature Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
    The other members of the jury are Saverio Costanzo, Italian director and screenwriter; Virginie Efira, Belgian actress; Cynthia Erivo, British actress and singer; Sarah Gadon, Canadian actress; Alexander Nanau, Romanian-German documentary director; and Chloé Zhao, Chinese director and screenwriter. (ANSA).


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