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Jury of Venezia 63 announced

La Biennale di Venezia
63rd Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica

Juan José Bigas Luna, Paulo Branco, Cameron Crowe,
Chulpan Khamatova, Park Chan-wook, Michele Placido
in the international Jury of Venezia 63. presided by Catherine Deneuve

The Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia, presided by Davide Croff, has approved the proposal by the Director of the Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica Marco Müller, regarding the composition of the international Jury of Venezia 63 presided by Catherine Deneuve, which will assign the official Awards for the edition that will take place between August 30 and September 9.

The international film personalities that have been invited to become members of the Jury of Venezia 63 are: Spanish director and screenwriter Juan José Bigas Luna, Portuguese producer Paulo Branco, American director, produce and screenwriter Cameron Crowe, Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova, Korean director and screenwriter Park Chan-wook, and Italian actor and director Michele Placido, in addition to the great French actress Catherine Deneuve (president), whose nomination was recently announced.

For the full-length feature films in the Venezia 63 section, the Jury will award, with no ex-aequo winners allowed, the Golden Lion for Best Film, the Silver Lion for Best Director, the Special Jury Prize, the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor, the Coppa Volpi for Best Actress, the Marcello Mastroianni Award for the Best Young Actor or Actress, the Osella for Best Technical Contribution, and the Osella for Best Screenplay.

Biographical notes on the components of the Jury of Venezia 63 Juan José Bigas Luna (Spain). Director, screenwriter and painter, born in Barcelona in 1946, he is one of the most interesting and most renowned figures in post-Franco era film-making, bringing the prohibited subject of desire out into the open in the new Spain. After working in journalism, he made his extraordinary debut in cinema with Bilbao, a film that demonstrated a secure style, characterized by a complex and biting romanticism, that humanely describes the torment of a maniac obsessed by a stripper. The theme of perdition, treated with surreal and sensual overtones, is the center of his later works as well, written in partnership with Cuca Canals, where what dominates is always love, translated by fantasy into passion and by life into suffering. He portrays a lengthy series of self-destructing modern characters, especially women, consumed by the power of a liberated and uncontrollable desire. This is true in Lola (1985), a sado-masochistic melodrama with Angela Molina, and in Las edades de Lulù (1990), an international success that launched Francesca Neri, a modern young woman, increasingly driven by passion. The destructive power of jealousy is the theme of Jamòn, jamòn (1992), a comedy with Penelope Cruz and Stefania Sandrelli which won the Silver Lion at the Mostra in Venice. Whereas in Huevos de oro (1993), we are witness to the rise and fall of a male chauvinist (Javier Bardem), who progressively becomes impotent. Bigas Luna won further recognition in Venice in 1994, from the jury presided by David Lynch, winning the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay for La teta y la luna which investigates pre-genital sexuality, and again on the Lido in 1996 with the controversial Bambola, interpreted by Valeria Marini. Faithful to his own work, he often finds inspiration in literature for his personal obsessions: in 1997 with La femme de chambre du Titanic (Goya award for Best Screenplay), from a novel by Didier Decoin, about the desperate love of a mature man for a chambermaid he met on the Titanic; with Volavérunt (1999), by Antonio Larreta, about the life of the painter Goya during the period in which he painted his “Maja desnuda”; with Son de mar (2001), by Manuel Vicent, a variation on the myth of Ulysses and his return to the woman he loves. The new film by Bigas Luna, to be released at the end of 2006, is the comedy Yo soi la Juani, with Verònica Echegui.

Paulo Branco (Portugal). A producer, born in Lisbon in 1950, he played a leading role in the renaissance of Portuguese film after the “ Carnation Revolution ” (which ended the dictatorship of Caetano in 1974); he has produced over 200 films since 1979 (in France, Germany and Great Britain as well) by some of the greatest directors – 80 of which have been presented at the festivals of Venice and Cannes – and is one of the most important figures in European art film. Throughout this timespan, he has produced the works of Manoel de Oliveira, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2004 Mostra in Venice, establishing a continuing and creative dialogue with this master. The many films they have collaborated on include, listing only the most significant, Amor de Perdiçao (1979), the famous Francisca (1981, a revelation at the Mostra in Venice that year), Le soulier de satin (O sapata de setim, 1985, Special Golden Lion in Venice), I cannibali (1988), A Divina Comédia (1991, Special Grand Prize of the Jury in Venice), Vale Abraão (1993, Honorable Mention at Cannes), Party (1996), A carta (1999, Special Jury Prize at Cannes). But over the years, Branco, as an artist and producer, makes films by other leading figures in Portuguese film, from João Botelho (Conversazione conclusa fra Pessoa e Sa-Carneiro, 1980; Très Palmeiras, 1994, O Fatalista, 2000, in competition in Venice), to João César Monteiro (Silvestre, 1980), and Pedro Costa (Casa de Lava, 1995). Deeply involved in prestige international productions, he establishes an important axis with French cinema, where his company Gemini Films produces works by Raoul Ruiz (the recent Klimt, 2006, whose cast features John Malkovich), Olivier Assayas, Cédric Khan, André Téchiné, Andrzej Zulawski; with Germany, where he works with Peter Handke, Werner Schroeter and especially Wim Wenders. He attracted this director’s production of The State of Things (Der Stand der Dinge, 1982, Golden Lion in Venice) and Lisbon Story to Portugal, and also produced Until the End of the World (Bis ans Ende der Welt, 1991). Outside of Portuguese, French and German cinema, he works with other masters such as Belgian director Chantal Akerman, Swiss director Alain Tanner, American director Robert Kramer, Lithuanian Sharunas Bartas, producing his films Few of us, 1996; Freedom, 2000; and Seven Invisible Men, 2005. He has created an internationally famous school for Portuguese technicians in Portugal. Currently he is working on approximately fifteen films, including America by Jerzy Skolimovski and The Inner Life of Martin Frost by Paul Auster.

Cameron Crowe (United States). Director, producer and screenwriter, born in Palm Springs (California) in 1957, he is one of the most original personalities in the new generation of US filmmakers. He began his career as an enfant prodige in show business at the age of 16, as a rock critic for the prestigious ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, interviewing legends such as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin; this early experience would characterize his later work, which would remain tuned into the contemporary music scene, paying particular attention to the soundtrack. At 22 he wrote a novel which became the screenplay for Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) by Amy Heckerling, a cult teen comedy that launched actors such as Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nicholas Cage. Teen-age adventures were also central to his early directing experiences, which he also produced, Say Anything…(1989), and above all Singles (1992) with Matt Dillon and Bridget Fonda, a new generational cult movie. The film captures the birth of the grunge musical and social phenomenon, describing, in realistic and vivacious terms, a youthful Seattle with its bands, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Soundgarden. He then created a production partnership with Tom Cruise, whom he directed in Jerry Maguire (1996), a behind-the-scenes comic look at television management, a box-office hit, nominated for the Oscars for Best Film and Best Screenplay. In 1999, confirming his peculiarity, Crowe published an essay-interview dedicated to Billy Wilder, Conversation with Wilder. He returned to directing focusing on personal themes, as in Almost famous (2000), where he basically narrates his own life as an adolescent who goes to San Diego to interview Black Sabbath, an opportunity to describe the music of the Seventies with his usual sociological vivacity (the film won the Oscar for Best Screenplay). He then renewed his partnership with Cruise, whom he directed in Vanilla Sky (2001), a Hollywood reinterpretation of the fantasy-existential film Abre los ojos by Alejandro Amenàbar, creating a soundtrack that included the Rem and Peter Gabriel. in 2005 he directed Elizabethtown, a post-adolescent comedy with perfect dialogues and biting duets between Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, presented out of competition last year at the Mostra in Venice, to great acclaim.

Chulpan Khamatova (Russia). This actress was born in 1975 and grew up in Kazan, the capital of the Tatarstan Republic – one of the most important of the Russian Federation – in a multiethnic family of engineers (her father is a Tartar-Muslim, her mother is Jewish). She is one of the most famous and talented film, TV and theatre performers in Russia and Germany. In 2004, before she was even 30, President Vladimir Putin conferred on her the title of ‘Emeritus Artist of the Russian Federation’. However, she could also be considered the biggest film star of Eastern Europe, and is becoming increasingly well-known in the West after such publicly and critically acclaimed roles as the passionate girl Mamlakat in Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov’s Luna Papa (1999), presented in the Sogni e Visioni Section at the Venice Festival; the Russian nurse Lara in Wolfgang Becker’s multi-award-winning Good bye, Lenin! (2002); or the high-society Anitsa, in 1914 Saint Petersburg, in Aleksei German Jr’s recent Garpastum (2005), in competition last year in Venice. Her name, Chulpan, means ‘rising star’ in the language of her country, Tatarstan. After initially studying maths and economics, she decided to enrol at the Theatre School of Kazan. Her teachers encouraged her to continue her acting studies in Moscow, and Chulpan joined the State Institute of Theatre Arts. In her third year she had already begun working in film, and was chosen for Vadim Abrashitov’s film Vremya Tantsora (1998). However, she gained international attention in Luna Papa (1999), the third film by the Tajik director Khudojnazarovn. She earned great critical acclaim in Venice with her stormy role as Mamlakat, the young aspiring actress from an eccentric family from Samarcanda, seduced and made pregnant by a would-be actor during the night of a full moon. Chulpan plays this role laughing and dancing, expressing a breathtaking thirst for life and dreams. Her career continued in Germany, where she confirmed her unusual talent savagely gesticulating in Veit Helmer’s surreal tale Tuvalu (1999). She then played Yelena in another story of a journey, England! (2000), the pilgrimage made by a young Ukrainian distraught by the events of Chernobyl. This was directed by the German Achim von Borries, who would become the screenwriter for Wolfgang Becker’s Good bye, Lenin! (2003), the film which brought Khamatova to a wider audience. Here, moving on from her usual character of a young dreamer to that of a more mature woman, she makes the protagonist Daniel Brühl lose his head, sustaining one of the powerful aspects of this extremely popular satire on East Germany. She has also played a modern video artist in Lars Kraume’s German comedy Viktor Vogel-Commercial Man, (2001), and then a prostitute with a difficult son in fin-de siécle Vienna in Uhrensohn (2004) by the Austrian director Michael Sturminger. Displaying her versatility, she plays a high-society woman from Saint Petersburg, who in 1914 helps the boys from the football team in Aleksei German Jr’s Garpastum (2005), a film which won a record ovation from the Sala Grande audience at the Venice Film Festival. This year Chulpan Khamatova has been involved in three productions: the Russian sci-fi thriller Mechenosets by Filipp Yankovsky, the Austrian comedy Midsummer Madness by Alexander Hahn, and the sentimental Russian movie The Rainbowmaker by Nana Dzhordzhadze.

Park Chan-wook (South Korea). Director and screenwriter, born in Seoul in 1963, he is one of the most significant talents of new Korean cinema and is a major protagonist at international festivals. Park loves saying that the film that changed his life was Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which he saw at the end of high school and was the starting point of his cinema of cruelty and suffering. He studied philosophy at the University of Sogang, where he founded a film club and developed a strong interest in film theory and criticism. He published various essays and articles, and since 1988 has worked on film sets, performing various duties. He became Kwak Jae-young’s first assistant director, and in 1992, with the production help of a friend, debuted as a director with Moon Is the Sun's Dream (Dal-eun ...haega kkuneun kkum), also writing the screenplay. He was forced to wait five years before returning on set and in 1997 directed Trio (Saminjo), which had more comic tones, albeit in a social context. The film came to the attention of the production company Myung Films, which offered Park the job of adapting Park Sang-yun’s novel DMZ. This was how the political thriller JSA - Joint Security Area (Gongdong Gyeongbi Guyeok JSA, 2000) was created, the story of the murder of two North Korean guards and the wounding of a third by a soldier from South Korea, and of the impossible reconciliation between the two separate halves. The film was a huge success both in his homeland and at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001. And thus in 2002 Park managed to find the funding for a project that he had been working on for five years, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Boksuneun naui geot, 2002). Defined by the director as a tribute to Imamura Shohei’s Fukushû suruwa wareniari (1979), developed to symbolise the class conflict in Korea after the country was divided into North and South, the film divided the Korean public because of its extreme style, but became a cult success presented at numerous international festivals. The following year, he directed Oldboy (2004), based on the comic of the same name written by Garon Tsuchiya with drawings by Nobuaki Minegishi. In the film, the story of a man kidnapped and closed in a room for 15 years without knowing why, but who finally manages to escape, Park focuses on his idea of vendetta as an outlet for repressed rage at social iniquity in Korea. In 2004 Oldboy won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Festival (the most prestigious award ever received by a Korean film at a Western festival). Subsequently, Park took part in an ensemble film Three... Extremes (Saam gaang yi, 2004) – alongside Fruit Chan and Miike Takashi – that in 2004 was invited to the Venice Film Festival in the Mezzanotte section. He directed the episode Cut, which follows Park’s examination of the theme of vendetta, this time against the backdrop of a film set. In 2005, with Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Chinjeolhan geumyassi), in competition at the Venice Festival (winning the ‘Cinema Avvenire’ and ‘Il Leoncino d’oro’ Awards), he brought to a close that which he defined his ‘vendetta trilogy’, developing a more complex and subtle idea in which revenge is the opportunity for redemption and purification. He currently has in production I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Ok (Saibogujiman kwenchana), and a vampire film planned for 2007, Evil Live (Bakjwi, 2007), which he is also producing.

Michele Placido (Italy). He is one of the most admired and popular protagonists of contemporary Italian cinema, with his dual roles of actor and director. After studying at the Academy of Dramatic Arts he made his theatrical debut in 1970 with Luca Ronconi in Orlando Furioso, and he has worked on stage with, among others, Patroni Griffi and Strehler. In 1973 he made his cinematic debut in a supporting role in Carlo Di Palma’s Teresa la ladra. However, his personal and eclectic acting, capable of varying intense tones with unobtrusive ones, can be clearly seen in Romanzo Popolare (1974), directed by Mario Monicelli, in which he plays a young policeman in love with Ornella Muti. It was Marco Bellocchio who used him as a dramatic actor in Marcia trionfale (1976), for which he obtained a special David Award, and then in Salto nel vuoto (1980), whilst also taking on prominent roles with Comencini, Ferreri, Lizzani, Squitieri, Samperi (Ernesto, 1979, Best Actor at the Berlin Festival) and Rosi (Tre fratelli, 1981). A new turn in his career took place in 1984, with the role of Commander Cattani in the successful TV series La piovra directed by Damiano Damiani. He thus became one of the most popular Italian actors, continuing to offer vibrant performances at the cinema, such as the teacher in a borstal in Marco Risi’s Mery per sempre (1989). In 1990 he made his foray in directing with Pummarò, on the subject of immigrants, and it would be the combination of civil inspiration and psychological investigation that would characterise his directing work: from the delicate and successful Le amiche del cuore (1992), on the theme of incest that affects three suburban girls, to Un eroe borghese (1995, David di Donatello Special Award), about the assassination of the lawyer Ambrosoli, to Del perduto amore (1998), an intense portrait of the teacher Giovanna Mezzogiorno in a small village in Southern Italy. Subsequent works that have been invited in competition at the Venice Festival include Un viaggio chiamato amore (2002, Coppa Volpi to Stefano Accorsi), and Ovunque sei (2004). In 2005 he garnered enormous success with Romanzo criminale, based on Di Cataldo’s best seller, winning eight David Awards and five Nastri d’Argento. All of this running parallel to his successful and varied acting career, that spans from the shady wheeler-dealer in Gianni Amelio’s Lamerica (1994), to the agonised working-class father in Pasquale Pozzessere’s Padre e figlio (1994), and the hammy and already memorable scoundrel and womaniser in Nanni Moretti’s Il caimano. In 2006, he will be appearing in Giuseppe Tornatore’s La sconosciuta and Mario Monicelli’s Le rose del deserto.


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