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Sam Mendes to Head Venice Film Festival Jury

ROME — British film and stage director Sam Mendes will head the jury of the 73rd Venice Film Festival.

Mendes’ rapport with the Lido dates back to 2002 when he was in the Venice competition with Tom Hanks-starrer “Road to Perdition,” which is the only one of his movies to launch from an international film festival.

Mendes broke out on the global film scene with his smash hit first feature “American Beauty,” followed by mob movie “Perdition,” war drama “Jarhead,” Kate Winslet-starrer “Revolutionary Road,” road comedy “Away We Go” and the two highly successful latest James Bond pictures, “Skyfall,” in 2012, and “Spectre” in 2015.

He will next direct “The Voyeur’s Motel,” based on a soon-to-be-published novel by Gay Talese about a man who spent 35 years spying on his motel guests. Steven Spielberg is producing.

Mendes, whose career started in theatre, most recently directed the Olivier Award-nominated musical adaptation for the stage of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” He is also an executive producer of hit Brit TV show “Penny Dreadful.”

The upcoming edition of Venice will see Alberto Barbera remain in the saddle as artistic director, thanks to an extension of his mandate beyond the fest’s customary four year term. Barbara’s extension is likely to be a prelude to his getting another four-year mandate at the helm of the Grand Dame of European film festivals.

Barbera in a statement called Mendes’ work “a particularly effective and convincing synthesis of a vocation for distinctive theatre and cinema.” “His productions, whether destined for stage or screen, are able to reconcile the expectations of the most exacting critics with the tastes of a vast audience which seems to transcend all geographical and cultural boundaries,” the Venice topper enthused.

“I’m very honoured to have been asked by Alberto to lead the International Jury for Venezia 73,” said Mendes. “I’ve always had a strong personal connection with Venice; as a student I worked for three months at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection way back in 1984, and my happiest film festival memory is launching “Road To Perdition” at Venice in 2002.”

Barbera is coming off a solid 72nd edition that saw Venezuelan first-time director Lorenzo Vigas’s potent first feature “From Afar” scoop the Golden Lion while also launching high-profile studio and U.S. indie titles including “Black Mass,” “Everest,” and Tom McCarthy’s multiple-Oscar-winning “Spotlight” which bolstered Venice’s status as a driver for awards season fare.

Last year Alfonso Cuaron served as Venice jury topper, two years after his film “Gravity” launched from the Lido in 2013.

The 73rd edition of Venice will run August 31-September 10.


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