65th Venice International Film Festival
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65th Venice International Film Festival
65th Venice International Film Festival
Festival poster
Location Venice, Italy
Founded 1932
Festival date 27 August - 6 September 2008
Website Website
Venice Film Festival chronology

The 65th annual Venice International Film Festival, held in Venice, Italy, was opened on August 27, 2008, by Burn After Reading, and closed on September 6, 2008. International competition jury, led by Wim Wenders, awarded Leone d'Oro to The Wrestler, directed by Darren Aronofsky.

65th Venice International Film Festival

77-year-old Italian film director Ermanno Olmi received a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.[1][2][3]

About the 65th edition of festival

The festival opened on August 27, 2008, with the highly anticipated film directed by the Coen brothers, Burn After Reading. Burn is not running in the official competition and thus is ineligible to win any prizes, but reaction in Venice will indicate whether Joel and Ethan Coen can repeat their success of 2008 with the Academy Award-winning Venice entry, No Country For Old Men.[4]

Unlike the Cannes Film Festival, American filmmakers have only twice won the coveted prize at Venice (with the majority of prizes going to European or Asian filmmakers over the past 65 years). It is also famine for British films, as none were selected for competition in this year's festival.[5] Despite the dearth of English-speaking films, several films at the fest are likely to make a splash at this year's Oscars in Hollywood. A trend has been that several films launched in Venice have gone on to garner multiple Academy Award nominations. In 2005, Taiwan-born director Ang Lee's film, Brokeback Mountain earned its director a Best Director Oscar. Lee has won the top prize at Venice twice in the past few years.[4][6]

The glamour of the Venice Film Festival (attended by many high-profile stars) as well as the link with the upcoming Academy Awards has helped raise the Venice Film Festival's profile. Nonetheless, the event has a long-established reputation for showcasing emerging cinema, including films from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, and this year's lineup proves the same.[7]

Festival organizers have announced that the festival's shorts competition will begin on September 1 with Natalie Portman's directorial debut, Eve. Rising Russian star Kseniya Rappoport will also host the opening and closing ceremonies.[8]

German independent film director Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire) will head the Venice film jury.[9]

According to the International Herald Tribune, the Venice Film Festival will not be without its drama if the water-taxi drivers have any say:

"On the eve of the festival, Venice's water-taxi drivers were threatening to go on strike... The city's deputy mayor, Michele Vianello, at first responded in "make-my-day" mode, telling them to go right ahead, a sentiment shared by most of Venice's inhabitants, the vast majority of whom use public water buses and would only consider taking one of these astronomically expensive private conveyances for weddings, funerals, or if they won the lottery. Vianello subsequently declared the strike illegal, but if it goes ahead, ordinary festivalgoers may find themselves traveling with the stars (the Lido can only be reached by boat)."[5]

The festival will close on September 6, 2008.[9]

This year's Venice Film Festival's film selections had been widely criticized as being among the weakest in years, with some publications even describing it as the "worst ever".[10][11] Later showings made It improve from bad to better,[12][13] but it might have been too late.[14]

The 65th Venice International Film Festival will be dedicated to the late Egyptian director Youssef Chahine. Chahine who died recently at age 82, was a notable in post-war Arab cinema.[9] Festival director Marco Mueller said, "Who else could have succeeded in mixing the philosopher Averroes with Fred Astaire? That's what cinema should be about", Mueller said, referring to Chahine's film "Destiny".[15]

About the films in the festival

Of the 52 films selected to screen at this year's Venice Mostra, only 21 will be competing for the Golden Lion top prize.[15]

Most of the films at Venice will be world premieres, including the "things that go boom" psychological thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker. The film deals with the physical and emotional strains faced by EOD bomb squads in Iraq.[7] Also premiering at the festival is home-grown favorite Birdwatcher directed by Italy's own Marco Bechis. Other strong contenders for the coveted Golden Lion award are the Darren Aronofsky directed film, The Wrestler, and director Barbet Schroeder's entry, L'Inju: la Bete dans l'Ombre.[9]

With no British pictures and a diminished U.S. presence, the Venice Film Festival will focus on Italian and Japanese cinema with four films from each country, including Oscar-winning animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki's latest, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.[16]

European films are also set to dominate the festival, due in part to the American Writer's Guild strike and the effects of the slow down in the film pipeline. Other theories for the lack of American films are the U.S. economy (with dollar's slump vs. the euro), and Hollywood studio belt-tightening.[16] The major U.S. studios have effectively gobbled up all the small independent labels, then went on to make poor development and/or marketing decisions causing the inevitable shuttering or downsizing of these same "independent" labels. Former "indies" such as Warner Independent, New Line and Paramount Vantage are ghosts of the past. The lucrative temptation for studios to bust their budgets with big tent pole films has also meant the hard squeeze on less expensive, but the more challenging-to-market independent films. Risk-averse U.S. majors are seemingly no longer as willing to foot the bill for innovative films made for grownups. Industry trade magazines have pronounced this both as a death and/or a subsequent potential rebirth or "reboot" for independent filmmaking.[17]

"We look for the vitality of cinema where it is hidden, be it in popular works or auteur cinema; it makes no difference to us", festival director Marco Mueller says. Muller added, "The choices I made this year reconfirm an identity for the festival, but I definitely want Venice to stay pluralistic and contradictory." The show this year is packed with Japanese and French titles, and Mueller was compelled to honor domestic films, unfurling the largest Italian contingent on the Lido in ages.[18]

African cinema is also well repped with Ethiopian director Haile Gerima's Teza and Algerian helmer Tariq Teguia is screening Inland.[18]

Asia could win the Golden Lion for best film for the fourth year running. Leading the Japanese line-up is Akires to kame (Achilles and the Tortoise) directed by Takeshi Kitano. Kitano is a favored son in Venice, having already won the 1997 Leone d'Oro for Hana-bi (Fireworks) and who was awarded a special prize for his direction of Zatoichi in 2003.[4]

Films being screen out of competition include 35 Rums by French director Claire Denis, Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami's film, Shirin and an autobiographical documentary by Belgium-born director Agnès Varda.[9]

The "record" for the longest film at this festival (or maybe any) goes to Philippine director Lav Diaz's Melancholia, with a running time of some seven-and-a-half hours, and which is included in the Orizzonti (Horizons) section.[7]

A highlight of this year's Italian retrospective is a restored version of Federico Fellini's 1952 comedy The White Sheik with forty minutes of newly discovered footage.[19]

2008 Venice Film Festival List of Films

In competition

International competition of full-length films running for Golden Lion for best picture are:[20]

Out of competition

New works by directors who have been honored in past festivals, as well as movies shown in the midnight time band.

Critics Week (In Competition)

Critics Week (Out of Competition/Closing Film)

Venice Days (Giornate Degli Autori)

Venice Days (Giornate Degli Autori) Documentaries

  • Che saccio - Directed by Camille d'Arcimoles (Italy)
  • Un paese possibile - Directed by Silvio Soldini (Italy)
  • Il Passato è il mio bastone - Directed by Flavia Mastrella and Antonio Rezza (Italy)

Short Films

Orizzonti (New Horizons)

New trends of cinema with full-length films in 35mm and digital format, and documentary-movies.

  • Antonioni su Antonioni - Directed by Carlo Di Carlo (Italy)
  • Below Sea Level - Directed by Gianfranco Rosi (Italy/US)
  • A Erva do Rato - Directed by Julio Bressane & Rosa Dias (Brazil)
  • L'Exil et le royaume - Directed by Andrei Schtakleff & Jonathan Le Fourn (France)
  • La fabbrica dei tedeschi - Directed by Mimmo Calopresti (Italy)
  • Los Herederos - Directed by Eugenio Polgovsky (Mexico)
  • Melancholia - Directed by Lav Diaz (Philippines)
  • In Paraguay - Directed by Ross McElwee (U.S.)
  • Puisque nous sommes nes - Directed by Jean-Pierre Duret & Andrea Santana (France/Brazil)
  • Soltanto un nome nei titoli di testa - Directed by Daniele Di Biasio (Italy)
  • ThyssenKrupp Blues - Directed by Pietro Balla & Monica Repetto (Italy)
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor (documentary) - Directed by Matt Tyrnauer (U.S.)
  • Venezia '68 (documentary) - Directed by Antonello Sarno, Steve Della Casa (Italy)
  • Verso Est - Directed by Laura Angiulli (Italy/Bosnia)
  • Wo men - Directed by Huang Wenhai (China/Switzerland)
  • Z32 - Directed by Avi Mograbi (Israel/France)
  • Khastegi - Directed by Bahman Motamedian (Iran)


The international juries of the 65th Venice International Film Festival were composed as follows:[21]

Official Competition Jury

Orizzonti / Horizons Jury

Premio Luigi De Laurentiis for Best Debut Feature Jury

Retrospective and restoration

Italian film's secret story: Questi fantasmi: Cinema italiano ritrovato (1946 - 1975)

Special monographic sessions dedicated to the secret story of Italian cinema. This is the fifth part of the retrospective, initiated at the 61st edition of the festival.


Venezia 65

  • Leone d'Oro (Golden Lion) for the best film: The Wrestler by Darren Aronofsky
  • Leone d'Argento (Silver Lion) for the best director: Aleksey German Jr. for Buma?nyj Soldat (Paper Soldier)
  • Special Jury Prize: Teza by Haile Gerima
  • Coppa Volpi for the best actor: Silvio Orlando, for Il papà di Giovanna
  • Coppa Volpi for the best actress: Dominique Blanc, for L'autre
  • Premio Marcello Mastroianni, for the best emerging actor or actress: Jennifer Lawrence for Burning Plain
  • Osella for Best Cinematography: Alisher Khamidhodjaev and Maxim Drozdov for Buma?nyj Soldat (Paper Soldier)
  • Osella for Best Screenplay: Haile Gerima for Teza
  • Special Lion for Overall Work: Werner Schroeter
  • "Luigi de Laurentis" Award for a Debut Film: Mid-August Lunch by Gianni Di Gregorio

Horizons - 'Premio Orizzonti'

  • Premio Orizzonti (Orizzonti prize):[22]Melancholia by Lav Diaz (Philippines)
  • Premio Orizzonti Doc: Below Sea Level by Gianfranco Rosi
    • Special mention to: Un Lac by Philippe Grandrieux
    • Special mention to: Wo men (We) by Huang Wenhai

Venetian prize for the first work

  • Leone del futuro (Lion of the future)

Short Films (Corto Cortissimo)

  • Golden Lion for Best Short: Tierra y Pan by Carlos Armella
    • Special mention: Vacsora by Karchi Perlmann
    • U.I.P. Award for Best European Short: De onbaatzuchtigen by Koen Dejaegher

Other prizes

According to the official web site:[23]


  • Best Film Venezia 65: Gabbla (Inland) by Tariq Teguia
  • FIPRESCI Award Best Film Horizons and International Critics' Week: Goodbye Solo by Ramin Bahrani


  • The Hurt Locker by Kathryn Bigelow
    • special mention to Vegas: Based on a True Story by Amir Naderi
    • special mention to Teza by Haile Gerima

Critics Week

  • The International Critics' Week Best Film: L'apprenti by Samuel Collardey.

Francesco Pasinetti (SNGCI) Award

  • Best Film: Mid-August Lunch by Gianni Di Gregorio
    • Special mention to Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo
  • Best Male Actor: Silvio Orlando for Il papà di Giovanna
  • Best Female Actor: Isabella Ferrari for Un giorno perfetto

Isvema Award for a debut or second feature film

  • Mid-August Lunch by Gianni Di Gregorio

Label Europa Cinemas Award - Giornate degli Autori 2008

  • Machan by Uberto Pasolini

Doc/it Award - Sicilia Film Commission

  • Below Sea Level by Gianfranco Rosi
    • special mention to L'Apprenti by Samuel Collardey

Leoncino d'oro Award 2008 (Agiscuola)

  • Il papà di Giovanna by Pupi Avati
  • Cinema for UNICEF commendation: Teza by Haile Gerima

Art Cinema Award

  • Dikoe Pole (Wild Field) by Mikhail Kalatozishvili

La Navicella - Venezia Cinema Award

  • The Hurt Locker by Kathryn Bigelow

C.I.C.T. UNESCO Enrico Fulchignoni Award

Christopher D. Smithers Foundation Special Awards

Biografilm Lancia Award - fiction

  • Rachel Getting Married by Jonathan Demme

Biografilm Lancia Award - documentary

  • Below Sea Level by Gianfranco Rosi

Nazareno Taddei Award

  • Il papà di Giovanna by Pupi Avati

Don Gnocchi Award

  • Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo
    • special mention to Ezio Greggio for Il papà di Giovanna

Future Film Festival Digital Award

  • The Sky Crawlers by Mamoru Oshii
    • special mention to Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) by Hayao Miyazaki

Brian Award

Khastegi by Bahman Motamedian

Queer Lion Award

  • Un altro pianeta by Stefano Tummolini

Lanterna Magica Award (Cgs)

  • Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo


  • Best Film in Competition: Vegas: Based on a True Story by Amir Naderi
  • "The circle is not round. Cinema for peace and the richness of diversity" Award: Teza by Haile Gerima


  • Machan by Uberto Pasolini

Bastone Bianco Award (Filmcritica)

  • Akires to kame (Achilles and the Tortoise) by Takeshi Kitano

Human Rights Film Network Award

  • The Hurt Locker by Kahryn Bigelow

Arca Cinemagiovani Award

  • Best Film Venezia 65: The Hurt Locker by Kathryn Bigelow
  • Best Italian Film: Pranzo di Ferragosto by Gianni Di Gregorio
  • "Altre Visioni" Award: Sell Out! by Yeo Joon Han

EIUC Human Rights Film Award

  • Kabuli Kid by Akram Barmak

Lina Mangiacapre Award

  • Stella by Sylvie Verheyde

Air For Film Fest Award

  • Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo

Open Award 2008

  • The Butcher's Shop by Philip Haas

"Poveri ma belli" Award

  • Puccini e la fanciulla by Paolo Benvenuti

Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award for a film which shows a firm connection with the arts

  • Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) by Hayao Miyazaki


  1. ^ "Ermanno Olmi to receive Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement". Archived from the original on 16 September 2008. Retrieved . 
  2. ^ "Director finds grace in the common man Critical Appreciation: Ermanno Olmi" Variety, By JAY WEISSBERG, Aug. 22, 2008
  3. ^ "The 2000?s". Retrieved 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Venice seeks role as Oscars springboard", Ninemsn, Australia - Aug 23, 2008 Archived 2008-08-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b "At Venice film festival, a truly global lineup" by Roderick Conway Morris, International Herald Tribune, August 26, 2008
  6. ^ The Los Angeles Times, "Will the Venice Film Festival launch Oscars' lead ponies again?"
  7. ^ a b c "PREVIEW: Venice seeks to consolidate role as Oscars springboard" Europe News, By Peter Mayer, Aug 21, 2008 Archived 2008-09-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Rappoport to host..." Variety, 8-13-08
  9. ^ a b c d e Venice festival line-up revealed - BBC News - Entertainment, 30 July 2008
  10. ^ "Is this year's Venice film festival the worst ever?". The Week Daily. 2008-09-02. 
  11. ^ Ide, Wendy (2008-09-02). "Nuit De Chien". London: The Times. 
  12. ^ Nigel Andrews. "Wrestling with one for the airheads". The Financial Times. Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved . 
  13. ^ Deborah Young. "Diamonds in the rough at Venice". THR.com. Archived from the original on 14 September 2008. Retrieved . 
  14. ^ Agnès Poirier (2008-09-08). "Venice: This year's festival was notable only for its awfulness". London: guardian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 11 September 2008. Retrieved . 
  15. ^ a b "Hollywood comes to Venice as Pitt, Clooney kick off filmfest" (AFP), Aug 24, 2008 Archived 2008-08-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ a b Boston Herald, By Stephen Schaefer, August 24, 2008
  17. ^ "Hollywood debates festival costs - In frugal times, fest premiere value questioned", Variety, By ADAM DAWTREY, Aug. 22, 2008
  18. ^ a b "Chaotic year lessens Venice lineup" Variety, By NICK VIVARELLI, Aug. 22, 2008
  19. ^ Boston Herald, By Stephen Schaefer August 24, 2008
  20. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (2008-07-29). "Venice Film Fest announces slate". Variety. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008. Retrieved . 
  21. ^ "Juries for the 2000?s". Retrieved 2013. 
  22. ^ "Biennale Cinema 65th Venice Film Festival Official Orizzonti Awards". Archived from the original on 9 September 2008. Retrieved . 
  23. ^ "Biennale Cinema 65th Venice Film Festival Collateral Awards". Archived from the original on 10 September 2008. Retrieved . 

External links

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