Venice chief Alberto Barbera praised Martel as “Latin America’s most important female director and one of the top female directors worldwide,” adding that she had achieved this status with just “four feature films and a handful of shorts” in less than 20 years.
“In her films, the originality of her stylistic research and her meticulous mise-en-scène are at the service of a worldview free of compromises, dedicated to exploring the mysteries of female sexuality and the dynamics of groups and classes,” Barbera said in a statement.
“It’s an honor, a responsibility and a pleasure to be a part of this celebration of cinema, of humanity’s immense desire to understand itself,” said Martel, who directed Icelandic singer Björk in a theatrical concert production last month at The Shed, a new arts center in Manhattan.
Martel will head the jury that awards Venice’s Golden and Silver Lions. The other panel members have not yet been announced.
Born in Salta, Argentina, Martel made her feature film debut with “La Ciénaga” (“The Swamp”) in 2001, followed by “La Nina Santa” (“The Holy Girl”) in 2004, and “La Mujer sin Cabeza” (“The Headless Woman”) in 2008.
Her fourth feature, the sweeping drama “Zama,” which explores colonialism and racism in 18th-century Latin America, premiered at Venice out-of-competition in 2017.
The Venice Film Festival, the world’s oldest such event, has in recent years become a major awards-season springboard for Hollywood studio and independent movies alike. Recent jury presidents include Sam Mendes, Annette Bening and Guillermo Del Toro.
The festival is also honoring Julie Andrews and Pedro Almodovar with lifetime achievement awards.
The Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 28 to Sept. 7.