Venice Fest Lionize William Friedkin

Restored 1977 thriller 'Sorcerer' to world preem

ROME — William Friedkin will be feted with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement by the 70th Venice Film Festival where a pristine restored and recolored copy of his 1977 thriller “Sorcerer” will world preem.

Friedkin is a Lido aficionado. The U.S. helmer’s latest pic, “Killer Joe,” screened in competish at Venice in 2011.

Venice topper Alberto Barbera praised Friedkin for playing a prominent role in the renewal of American cinema, which started in the late 1960s, known as “the New Hollywood,” and later “basically inventing the modern blockbuster” with “The French Connection” (1971) and “The Exorcist” (1973), before going on to make many works “ahead of their time” including “Sorcerer,” “To Live and Die in L.A.” and “Jade,” he said in a statement.

“Sorcerer,” an adaptation of French thriller “Wages of Fear,” by Henri-George Clouzot, is one of Friedkin’s most controversial pics. Released roughly one week after George Lucas’ “Star Wars,” it was not a commercial success, but has since become one of Friedkin’s most critically praised titles and one of the hardest to catch on a big screen.

The Warner Bros. restoration of “Sorcerer” began with a 4k film resolution scan of the original 35mm camera negative. The restoration project is now in final stages of color timing. It’s being completed under the Friedkin’s direction, working with colorist Bryan McMahan, who has collaborated with Friedkin since 1994, and with Ned Price of Warner Bros.

“I consider ‘Sorcerer’ my most personal film and the most difficult to achieve,” said Friedkin. “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.”

Restoration took some doing on Friedkin’s part. He reportedly had to initiate legal action against Universal and Paramount, who co-produced the film, in order to save its afterlife. Warner Bros. will now re-release “Sorcerer,” though it’s not clear yet in what media.

The 70th Venice Film Festival will run Aug. 28-Sept. 7.

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