Oscar Directors: Friedkin, William–Venice Fest’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

American Oscar winning director William Friedkin will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 70th Venice International Film Festival (28 August-7 September 2013).

The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennale chaired by Paolo Baratta, upon recommendation of the Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera.

In presenting his recommendation for the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to the Board of Directors, Alberto Barbera wrote that William Friedkin “has contributed in a prominent way – the revolutionary impact of which has not always been recognized – to the profound renewal of American cinema regarded as ‘the New Hollywood’. Friedkin exploded the rules of documentary filmmaking in several works for television that were seminal for their dry, harsh and unpredictable point of view, and later revolutionized the popular genres of the crime film and the horror film, basically inventing the modern blockbuster with The French Connection (1971, which won five Oscars, including Best Film and Best Director) and The Exorcist (1973).

He was the director of films far ahead of their time, such as Sorcerer (1977), Cruising (1980), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) and Jade (1995, presented at the Venice Film Festival in the Notti veneziane section), some of which were only later reassessed as authentic masterpieces”. Friedkin was recently acclaimed by critics and the public alike at the 2011 Venice Film Festival for Killer Joe, presented in the Competition section.

“Venice, especially during the Film Festival, is a spiritual home to me,” said William Friedkin. “The Golden Lion is something I never expected but am proud to accept with gratitude and love”.

William Friedkin will receive the award during the 70th Venice International Film Festival, where he will present the Warner Bros. restored version of Sorcerer (1977). “I consider Sorcerer my most personal film and the most difficult to achieve. To realize that it’s going to have a new life in cinema is something for which I’m deeply grateful. To have its world premiere at the Venice Festival is something I look forward to with great joy. It is truly a Lazarus moment.”, William Friedkin said.

William Friedkin – Biographical Note

William Friedkin may be best known for his film The Exorcist (1973), one of the most terrifying films of all time. It received ten Academy Award nominations including Best Director and Best Picture. Prior to that, he directed The French Connection (1971), for which he received the Director’s Guild of America Award and the Academy Award for Best Director. The film also won for Best Actor, Best Editing, Best Screenplay and Best Picture.

Other films include Sorcerer (1977), The Brinks Job (1979), Cruising (1981), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) and Blue Chips (1994). In 1997, he directed a Showtime/MGM television remake of Twelve Angry Men with Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Hume Cronyn and Ossie Davis. The DGA nominated him for Outstanding Directorial Achievement for Best Dramatic Special. It was also nominated for six Emmy Awards. Other films include Rules of Engagement (2000) and The Hunted starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro (2003), Bug with Ashley Judd (2007) and his most recent film, KILLER JOE starring Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch which was released in 2012.

He made his operatic debut in 1998 with a widely acclaimed production of Berg’s Wozzeck at Maggio Musicale Florence, conducted by Zubin Mehta. In 2002, he made his Los Angeles Opera debut with a double bill of Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, R. Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, also with Kent Nagano. In 2005, he directed Saint-Saens’ Samson and Delilah for the New Israeli Opera, Tel Aviv, and Verdi’s Aida at the Teatro Regio Torino in Italy.

In 2006, he directed Duke Bluebeard’s Castle/Gianni Schicchi for Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center. The same year, he enjoyed an extremely successful collaboration with Kent Nagano at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, with new productions of Strauss’ Salome and the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Das Gehege. Both productions continue to be performed through the 2008 season. For Los Angeles Opera, he directed a double bill of Suor Angelica/Il Tabarro, which premiered September 6, 2008. In 2011, he directed the opera, The Makropulos Case at Maggio Musicale, Florence, Italy and Tales of Hoffmann at Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria in 2012.