They thought they would arrive at the well-known Lido of Venice. They thought they would recognise the majestic shapes of the Casino and the Palace of Cinema – but they found a dusty and messy work in progress instead. (Which is what the location of Venice Film Festival is going through this year, in order to provide the audience with a new Palace next year) But the Jury of the Official Contest is not so easy to scare! Here’s the full list of this year’s jurors and who they may favour over the next seven days.
Twice winner of the Golden Lion. The Fest hearts him. Undeniably gifted as a director and as a diplomat in the harsh world of film, he nimbly waltzes between native Taiwan and adoptive America. His intimate dramas highlight the joyless contradictions of both places, but fly high enough to become universal paradigms of human behaviour. If Lee let his Asian pride prevail, he’d favour compatriot Yonfan and his Prince Of Tears, or Chinese-HK Pou-si Cheang with Accident. But his favourite subjects are exposed by Middle Eastern directors this year.
An actress and director who is hard to pigeon-hole. She started her career with Maurice Pialat and is specialised in the role of problematic/psychopathic women. Thankfully she isn’t a diva and carefully weighs the projects she wants to be involved with. Two years ago she directed Her Name Is Sabine, a documentary about her (really) mentally ill sister (see Open’s review), and revealed an unexpected sensitivity and author’s depth. Within the jury, she might be a stalwart of the most original and difficult movies.
Now this is a problem. After her wonderful Night Porter in 1974 she wasn’t able to repeat her directorial exploit, and retreated to the easier language of biopics. her random comebacks to fiction (including Ripley’s Game) did not confirm her talent. It is hard to tell what kind of taste she will bring forward: maybe the perversion of Shinya Tsukamoto and his brand new Tetsuo? Or Michele Placido’s Italian historical drama The Great Dream? or Werner Herzog’s iconoclastic fury in his version of Bad Lieutenant?
He gave us Gremlins, Piranhas and The Second American Civil War, hence we say: he’ll be enthused by Romero and Tsukamoto! Or, will he? Dante has already promoted genre film in Venice in 2004, when he curated the retrospective Italian Kings Of B. Perhaps it’s time to change direction? We might find out that Dante is in reality a great fan of Jacques Rivette and Shirin Neshat. Go, wild boy, go.
The name only specialists know. The juror who guarantees attention to the most difficult and obscure film aesthetics – therefore, a very important role within the jury. This young Indian director is most regarded for Black Friday, a documentary about the bombings of Bombay in 1993, and for location-scouting for Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. He will probably promote Sri Lankan film Between Two Worlds by Vimukthi Jayasundara.
This Russian writer-director has flirted with the Oscars for Best Foreign Film with his works Mongol and Prisoner Of The Caucasus. Quite original, quite open, quite versatile, quite visionary and poetic, he could promote quality but also feel-good films. One for the compromise. An important juror in his own way.
This year’s scandal, according to the most serious critics. Ligabue is a famous Italian rocker who recently stepped into film direction with very mixed results. His two films were screened in Venice and (inexplicably) Cannes. Is that enough to make him a juror? We take for granted that Ligebue is an honest and good at heart man – now what about his real knowledge of film history? What about his judgemental criteria? Worst case scenario, he’ll favour those films with a rock soundtrack.
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