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Naomi Watts, Christoph Waltz, Taika Waititi Set for Venice Jury Duty

Actors Naomi Watts and Christoph Waltz and filmmaker Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) have joined the main jury of the Venice Film Festival, which will be presided over by director Guillermo del Toro, the winner of last year’s Golden Lion for “The Shape of Water.”

Also on the panel are Taiwan’s Sylvia Chang, director of “Love Education,” which opened last year’s Tokyo FILMeX fest; Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, who was in Venice last year as the star of “Nico, 1988”; French director-actor Nicole Garcia (“Place Vendome”); Italian director Paolo Genovese (“Perfect Strangers”); and Poland’s Malgorzata Szumowska, director of “Mug,” which won this year’s Berlin Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize.

Waltz was on the Lido last year as one of the stars of opener “Downsizing.” Watts was in Venice in 2016 with boxing drama “The Bleeder,” directed by Liev Schreiber. It will be Waititi’s first appearance on the Venice red carpet.

Greek director and producer Athina Tsangari has been tapped to preside over the jury of the festival’s Horizons section for cutting-edge works. Joining her are U.S. director and producer Michael Almereyda (“Marjorie Prime”); Iranian actress Fatemeh Motamed-Aria (“Avalanche”); Egyptian producer and Cairo Film Festival artistic director Mohamed Hefzy; Canadian writer-director Alison Maclean (“The Rehearsal”); and Italian director Andrea Pallaoro. Pallaoro was in the Venice competition last year with Charlotte Rampling-starrer “Hannah.” 

U.S. director Ramin Bahrani, who directed HBO’s recent “Fahrenheit 451” adaptation, will head the jury awarding Venice’s Lion of the Future prize, which recognizes the best first work from any section at the festival. Bahrani’s fellow jurors are Italian actor Carolina Crescentini; Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania (“Beauty and the Dogs”); Japanese film academic and festival director Hayashi Kanako; and Argentine director Gaston Solnicki, whose experimental “Kékszakállú” was in Horizons in 2016.  

The jury of Venice’s section for Virtual Reality works will be headed by Danish director Susanne Bier, with Italian writer Alessandro Baricco and French actress Clémence Poésy as the other jurors. They will assign prizes for Best VR Immersive Story, Best VR Experience for interactive content, and VR Story for linear content, out of the 30 entries competing in this groundbreaking section.

The 75th edition of Venice will run from Aug. 29 to Sept. 8.

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