ROME – Jane Fonda and Robert Redford will be celebrated with Golden Lion lifetime achievement awards by the Venice Film Festival, where “Our Souls at Night,” the Netflix original film in which they both star, will have its world premiere in an out-of-competition slot.
Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera praised Fonda as “an extraordinarily successful and talented actress” and credited Redford with spearheading “that brilliant experiment in film called Sundance.” The pair will pick up their awards in Venice’s Palazzo del Cinema on Sept. 1, before a gala screening of “Our Souls at Night.”
Produced by Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises, Finola Dwyer’s Wildgaze Films and Erin Simms, “Our Souls” marks the first time that the two Hollywood icons have re-teamed on screen since their lead roles in “The Electric Horseman” (1979). They previously starred together in “Barefoot in the Park” (1967).
“Our Souls at Night” (pictured) is based on a novel by Kent Haruf and adapted for the screen by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“The Fault in Our Stars”). Directed by Ritesh Batra, the Colorado-set film begins with Addie Moore (Fonda) paying an unexpected visit to a neighbor named Louis Waters (Redford). “Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they’d been neighbors for decades, but had little contact,” according to press materials.
In the novel, Addie proposes that they begin sleeping together, without having sex, just to talk in the dark and provide each other comfort, even though they don’t know each other very well.
“Few Hollywood legends have demonstrated such determination and courage over the course of their professional career as Jane Fonda,” Barbera said in a statement. “Her life has been marked by intense passion in her pursuit of freedom from every type of conformism, with a touching and vulnerable generosity.”
Barbera described Fonda as “a political and social activist, a sex symbol, a writer, a feminist icon, a producer, and a prophet of physical fitness, but above all an extraordinarily successful and talented actress.”
Barbera praised Redford for his achievements as an “actor, director, producer, environmentalist, [and] founder and soul of that brilliant experiment in film called Sundance.”
“Whether in front or behind the camera, advocating for the cause of independent cinema or the cause of our planet, Robert Redford has led us through almost five decades of compelling filmmaking and advocacy with a combination of rigor, intelligence and grace that is virtually unsurpassed,” Barbera said.
Despite the recent controversy in Cannes over Netflix’s stringent theatrical release policy, Barbera has looked on the streaming giant favorably in terms of including its films in Venice’s programming. It’s likely that the Lido will see several other Netflix titles world premiering.
The 74th Venice International Film Festival will run Aug. 30 to Sept. 9.