Disney/Pixar directors also to be feted
John Lasseter will receive the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement from the Venice Film Festival, which also will honor the Disney toon guru’s close-knit team of hitmaking helmers.Lasseter, who is chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, will travel to the Lido accompanied by colleagues Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich and Andrew Stanton, directors, respectively — and at times collectively — of toon tentpoles such as “Ratatouille,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E.” Venice artistic topper Marco Mueller praised Lasseter for always being “on the lookout for that point at which the avant-garde (whether artistic, technological or formal) meets the blockbuster.” “Lasseter has not only contributed to bringing animation cinema to new heights as one of the great expressive forces of the new millennium, but has also become one of the symbols of the most precious, vital and inventive tradition of the great Hollywood cinema,” Mueller added in a statement. Venice’s move to lionize Lasseter will help the Lido boost its Hollywood quotient, which was lamentably low last year. But the nod to the Disney toons topper also falls perfectly in line with Mueller’s previous attention to animation, as attested by the Lido in 2005 lionizing Japanese anime auteur Hayao Miyazaki, of whom Lasseter is a close friend and big fan. The choice of Lasseter and Pixar/Disney is also timely given that “Wall-E,” which is nommed for six Oscars, is the best reviewed pic of 2008. There is also an industry angle. A high-profile workshop/confab to bring the Pixar/Disney contingent in contact with Europe’s young toon helmers is being organized by the Venice Biennale. No date has yet been set for Venice’s Disney-day. The fest’s 66th edition will run Sept. 2-12.