William Friedkin Makes Italian Connection at Venice Film Festival

Helmer talks about his career, his pics and offers advice to aspiring filmmakers

William Friedkin held court on Thursday at the Venice Film Festival, where he received a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement ahead of the world preem of a restored and recolored copy of his 1977 thriller “Sorcerer.”

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.

It is the pic that came “closest to my vision,” Friedkin recounted. “Of any film I ever made, the result (of this one) is the way I first saw it in my mind’s eye.”

As for future projects, Friedkin revealed that he and close-collaborator Tracy Letts, the Tony-winning playwright with whom he worked on “Killer Joe,” which unspooled in Venice in 2011, are “talking about doing a contemporary Western.”

“If by the grace of God we make another film together we will certainly bring it to Venice, if we are invited,” he said.

Friedkin was full of funny anecdotes, including one about his 1971 Oscar win for director. He had been asked by reporters after the ceremony how he felt about winning over Stanley Kubrick. “I said: ‘Well, the “French Connection” was funnier than “Clockwork Orange,” that’s how it must have happened.”

Friedkin’s advice to young filmmakers: “If you are in film school, leave immediately. Go out get a small camera, make your film, edit it at home, put it on a website, and do it yourself. Don’t worry about criticism, just let the audience see your work, free of any critical appraisal.

“Nobody can teach you how to make movies,” he said. “It is something that you learn by doing and by seeing. Because cinema begets cinema. My films are passable because of what I’ve seen in the works of others. All a young person has to do to learn how to make a film is watch the films of Alfred Hitchcock.”

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