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Variety to Honor Venice Artistic Director Alberto Barbera and La Biennale

Venice Film Festival Director Alberto Barbera
CLAUDIO ONORATI/EPA-EFE/REX/Shut

Variety will bestow its Intl. Achievement in Film Award on Alberto Barbera and La Biennale di Venezia at a ceremony at the Venice Film Festival next month. It is the first time that Variety is honoring an organization with this laurel.

Barbera, who has been the topper of the festival since 2012, extended his contract till 2024. The former critic spent March through June 2020 selecting films for Venice not knowing if the event would go forward or not. But in the end, it was one of the few festivals to pull off an in-person event successfully.

This year, Barbera has added another section, Horizons Extra, of films that need to be at least an hour long and will be judged by a jury of the audience.

One of the longest-serving artistic directors of Venice, Barbera has helped turn the festival into a major international event that Hollywood studios use as a springboard for awards hopefuls. The list of pics from the fall fest that reached the awards circle in recent years include “Gravity,” “Birdman,” “Spotlight,” “La La Land,” “The Shape of Water,” “Roma,” “Joker,” and, last year’s “Nomadland.”

His was also among the first festivals to embrace Netflix and include a competitive VR section.

In selecting Barbera for the award, Variety’s Steven Gaydos said: “Venice Film Festival has long exemplified excellency in international filmmaking. The last decade under the leadership of Alberto Barbera has continued that tradition, but added a fresh dimension of Hollywood glamour, film awards season relevancy and a creative vitality that makes this one of the most exciting periods in the festival’s illustrious history.”

“We have never honored a film festival director and festival before, and it seems entirely appropriate that Alberto Barbera and La Biennale be the first person and orgnization for this recognition.”

The 2021 Venice Film Festival will run from Sept. 1-11 and kick off with Pedro Almodóvar’s “Parellel Mothers.” Other buzzy titles include Denis Villenueve’s “Dune.” Bong Joon Ho will preside over the jury, which will include “Nomadland” helmer Chloé Zhao.