Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement: Marco Bellocchio

In awarding Marco Bellocchio its Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion, the Venice Film Festival is calling him one of the greatest and most influential Italian filmmakers in recent decades. According to Lido artistic director Marco Mueller, the reasoning was clear:

“With each new film, Marco Bellocchio leads you to yet another destination, different from those you thought you had already reached and discovered. A tireless traveler — carrying and steering ideas, and exploring the shifting boundaries between himself, cinema and history — he has used as his main compass the world that begins beyond visible reality (and within the unconscious),” Mueller wrote in his recommendation to the Biennale board. “And so he has found more vital and ‘accurate’ means of expression to describe the urgency of various types of knowledge, individual and collective, fading or vanished.”

Mueller notes that after making a name for himself on the international scene at age 25 with “Fists in the Pocket,” the director had to work very hard to break free of this “onerous and unexpected success.”

“He did so by delving into visionary excitement in ‘In the Name of the Father,’ narrative classicism in ‘Victory March’ and psychological drama in his adaptation of Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull,’ ” Mueller says.

Later, with “Leap in the Dark,” the director “struck a remarkable balance between his penchant for great prose and his tension towards poetic cinema,” says Mueller. “This allowed him, starting with the incandescent ‘Devil in the Flesh,’ to develop his research into a kind of cinema that captured the unconscious impulses, leading to the formalism of ‘The Conviction’ and the experimentalism of ‘The Butterfly’s Dream.’ ”

According to Mueller, by probing the darkness of the unconscious in “The Prince of Homburg,” “Bellocchio sought to objectify the themes that have troubled and inspired him for so many years, which he later addressed in the past tense in ‘The Nanny’ and in the present tense in ‘Good Morning, Night’ and ‘My Mother’s Smile.’ ”

More recently, thanks to “Vincere,” international critics have reevaluated Bellocchio’s work, realizing that it “embodies all that is most courageous and innovative in Italian cinema,” Mueller enthuses.

And in recent years, adds the Venice topper, Bellocchio has created training and filmmaking opportunities for young students, notably at the Fare Cinema workshop he organizes every year in Bobbio, his hometown. That workshop spawned the almost free-form “Sorelle mai” project, presented out of competition at the Lido last year.

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