ROME — The Venice Film Festival is celebrating French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, who gained stardom during the French New Wave in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless,” and director Jerzy Skolimowski, pioneer of the Polish New Wave, with Golden Lions for lifetime achievement.
Belmondo, whom the fest in a statement called “an icon of French and international cinema,” first attended Venice in 1965 with Godard’s couple-on-the-run pic “Pierrot le Fou,” which was booed there before going on to gain praise and becoming a groundbreaking classic.
Synonymous with French cool, Belmondo is also known for his roles in French gangster movies such as “The Big Risk” by Claude Sautet (1960) and “Borsalino” by Jacques Deray (1970). His other standout pics include crime drama “The Night Caller” by Henri Verneuil (1975) and two films directed by Claude Lelouch, the Hollywood-set romancer “Love is a Funny Thing” (1969) and drama “Itinerary of a Spoiled Child” (1988). Belmondo also played the French Legionnaire in the 1967 Bond thriller “Casino Royale.”
Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera praised Belmondo’s “fascinating face, irresistible charm and extraordinary versatility.”
Skolimowski is a Venice aficionado who has had several films screening on the Lido, starting with sexual liberation drama “Deep End” in 1970 and more recently “Essential Killing,” starring Vincent Gallo as a Taliban insurgent, in 2010. He served on the main jury in 2001.
He is considered the enfant terrible of the Eastern European New Wave which started in the 1960s. “Skolimowski and Roman Polanski are the two filmmakers who most contributed to the renewal of Polish cinema during the same period,” Barbera said.
In a break with tradition, the fest is giving two Golden Lions this year and will do so going forward, it announced. One nod will be for either a director or a producer, the other for an actor.
As previously announced, U.S. director Damien Chazelle’s tribute to the Golden Age of American musicals, “La La Land,” starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend and J.K. Simmons, will open the 73rd edition of Venice on Aug. 31. The festival will run through Sept. 10.
The fest’s full lineup will be announced July 28.