Kechiche tops Venice first film jury

Director won last year's Special Jury Prize

Tunisian-born helmer Abdelatif Kechiche will head the Venice Film Festival jury awarding the Golden Lion of the Future prize for best work by a first-time director.

Kechiche’s third feature, “The Secret of the Grain” (aka “Couscous”), won Venice’s special jury prize last year and also scooped the new young actress award for its star, Hafsia Herzi.

The jury is rounded out by U.S. helmer and producer Gregory Jacobs, who is Steven Soderbergh’s longtime producer and a.d.; Brazilian actress Sonia Braga; Italian-American producer and helmer Donald Ranvaud, whose credits include “City of God”; and German-born, Rome-based scribe Heidrun Schleef, who co-penned the screenplay for Nanni Moretti’s “The Son’s Room.”

Also known as the Luigi De Laurentiis Prize, the $100,000 Venice nod for first work will be divided equally between the director and the producer. The nod also comes with $62,000 in film stock offered by Kodak to the director.

The 65th Venice fest runs Aug. 27-Sept. 6.

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