Both are no strangers to Venice, where Hui’s “A Simple Life” and “The Golden Era” both world-premiered. Swinton is a Venice veteran.
“This great festival has been dear to my heart for three decades: to be honored by her in this way is extremely humbling,” said Swinton. “To come to Venice, this year of all years, to celebrate immortal cinema and her defiant survival in the face of all the challenges that evolution might throw at her — as at us all — will be my sincere joy,” she added.
Said Hui: “I am so happy to receive this news and honored for the award! So happy that I feel I cannot find the words. I just hope everything in the world will turn better soon and everybody can feel again as happy as I am in this moment.”
Barring complications the upcoming edition in early September looks to be a watershed edition of Venice, which is the first major film festival to hold a physical edition after the coronavirus crisis.
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Quite soon in her career, in 1991, Swinton scooped the prize for best actress in Venice for her performance in “Edward II” by British director Derek Jarman, one of seven films they made together. More recently Swinton has been on the Lido with Luca Guadagnino’s “I Am Love” in 2009; and with Guadagnino’s “A Bigger Splash,” in 2015, and “Suspiria” in 2018.
Swinton’s more recent work includes Wes Anderson’s Cannes Label 2020 “The French Dispatch,” as well as the second part of British director Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir,” and also “Memoria,” by Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Swinton is working on projects with Pedro Almodóvar, with whom she is shooting “The Human Voice” and Australian director George Miller’s “Three Thousand Year of Longing,” alongside Idris Elba.
Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera in a statement praised Swinton for “her commanding and incomparable personality, uncommon versatility, and an ability to pass from the most radical art-house cinema to big Hollywood productions, without ever eschewing her inexhaustible need to bring to life unclassifiable and uncommon characters.”
Swinton’s standout Hollywood roles include her Oscar-winning performance in Tony Gilroy’s thriller “Michael Clayton.”
Hui emerged as a leader of the Hong Kong New Wave in the 1980s, following her debut feature “The Secret” (1979), starring Sylvia Chang.
Her early standout titles comprise Vietnamese refugees drama “Boat People” (1982) and semi-autobiographical “Song of the Exile” (1990), both of which bowed in Cannes, dramedy “Summer Snow” (1995), and social activism drama “Ordinary Heroes” (1999), which launched from Berlin, and social drama “A Simple Life” (2011), and big-budget biopic “The Golden Era” (2014), which premiered in Venice.
Barbara praised Hui as “one of Asia’s most respected, prolific, and versatile directors of our times,” and noted that “her career spans four decades and touches every film genre.”
The 75th edition of Venice is set to run Sept. 2-12. The lineup will be announced on July 28.