Oscar-winning Scottish actress Tilda Swinton and acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker Ann Hui will be honored with lifetime achievement awards at this year’s Venice International Film Festival, organizers unveiled on Monday.

Swinton, who won a best supporter actress Oscar for Michael Clayton in 2007, is one of the most versatile performers of her generation, with credits ranging from Marvel epics Doctor Strange and Avengers: Endgame to Lynne Ramsay’s family drama We Need to Talk About Kevin to Wes Anderson’s upcoming The French Dispatch.

Swinton is a regular on the Lido, most recently in 2018, when Luca Guadagnino’s Susperia remake, in which she co-stars, had its world premiere.

“This great festival has been dear to my heart for three decades: to be honored by her in this way is extremely humbling,” Swinton said in a statement. “To come to Venice, this year of all years, to celebrate immortal cinema and her defiant survival in the face of all the challenges that evolution might throw at her – as at us all – will be my sincere joy.”

Hui, one of Asia’s most prolific and acclaimed directors, helped transform Hong Kong cinema as part of the so-called Hong Kong New Wave of the 1970s and 1980s with films such as The Secret (1979), Boat People (1982) and Love in a Fallen City (1984). Hui has tried her hand at everything from melodrama to thrillers, from martial arts movies to cinematic autobiography. Characteristic for the Hong Kong New Wave, she has managed to combine a commercial approach with arthouse sensibilities. Her 2014 feature The Golden Era, premiered in Venice, as did her 2011 drama A Simple Life.

“I am so happy to receive this news and honored for the award! So happy that I feel I cannot find the words,” said Hui. “I just hope everything in the world will turn better soon and everybody can feel again as happy as I am in this moment.”

Hui is not known as a particularly political director but given the current upheaval in Hong Kong, with the Chinese government introducing a controversial new national security law critics say is aimed at stamping out opposition voices, honoring her this year looks like a strong statement by Venice and festival director Alberto Barbera.

The 77th Venice Film Fest runs September 2-September 12, marking the first major festival to take place since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Europe. Italy has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, but Venice is hoping encouragingly low infection rates in the country, and new safety conditions, will bring the international industry and talents back to the Lido.

Venice will unveil its official lineup next week.


My photos with Tilda Swinton over the years.