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Bernardo Bertolucci to Head International Jury at Venice Fest

Bernardo Bertolucci
Bernardo Bertolucci

The world's oldest film festival is adding a new award for its 70th edition following a controversy last year.

ROME -- Bernardo Bertolucci, the two-time Oscar winning director behind The Last Emperor and Last Tango in Paris, will head the international jury at this year’s edition of the Venice Film Festival, organizers announced Thursday.

Bertolucci, who has never had a film screen in competition in Venice, was given the festival’s Golden Lion for career achievement in 2007, and in 2011 he came to the Lido to present the lifetime honor to fellow maestro Marco Belocchio. It will be the second time Bertolucci heads the Venice festival: In 1983 he was president of the jury that awarded the festival’s prestigious Golden Lion prize to Jean-Luc Godard’s crime comedy Prénom Carmen (First Name: Carmen).

PHOTOS: Scenese From the Final Two Days of the 2012 Venice Film Festival

Bertolucci said he “cheerfully accepted” the offer to chair the jury, saying it means he would be “given the opportunity to see the most interesting work being done in filmmaking around the world.”

For his part, Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera, who nominated Bertolucci for the prize, said the 73-year-old has used his work to “explore with insatiable curiosity the world around us and the ever-evolving language of film, discovering and bringing to our attention what is most vital and beautiful.”

Bertolucci follows in the footsteps of U.S. director Michael Mann, who presided over the 2012 jury that ran into controversy when it tried to give too many honors to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. In the end, Anderson was given the festival’s Silver Lion honor as Best Director, and actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix were co-awarded the honors for Best Actor. But Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta won the Golden Lion as the competition’s best film.

STORY: Venice Votes to Expand Film Fest Juries, Adds Two New Prizes

This year, in addition to the Best Film, Best Director, and acting prizes, the festival announced the creation of a new Grand Jury prize that could have helped the Mann-led jury sidestep the problems a year ago. Starting this year, the main competition will also be limited to 20 films, all world premiers, compared to 23 in recent editions of the world’s oldest film festival.

The 70th edition of the Venice festival will take place this year August 28-Sept. 7.

Twitter: @EricJLyman