Duo join fest juries

ROME — The Venice Film Festival has enlisted producer Bill Mechanic to head the jury of its Lion of the Future prize for first-time filmmakers, while helmer Gregg Araki will be jury chief of the cutting-edge Venice Horizons section.

The jury headed by Mechanic — a former chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, who now heads his Pandemonium Films shingle — will pick the best debut feature among those unspooling across all Lido sections.

The $100,000 nod is funded by Italo producer Aurelio de Laurentiis in memory of his father Luigi. Moolah is evenly split between helmer and producer.

Lionized first-timer also receives a E40,000 ($54,000) film stock voucher from Kodak.

Araki, a Venice aficionado most recently at the Lido with “Mysterious Skin,” which unspooled in Horizons in 2004, will deliver verdicts for the Horizons Prize and the Horizons Doc prize.

Muller praised Mechanic and Araki as “two of the most representative figures of the new U.S. film scene, where independent spirit and creative originality contribute to give a renewed impulse to the production system.”

Headed for the fourth year by Muller, the 64th Venice fest will run Aug. 29-Sept. 8.

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