Sam Mendes to Head Venice Film Fest Jury

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Sam Mendes

The 'Spectre' director is headed to the world's oldest film fest.

The 73rd Venice Film Festival jury will be presided over by British filmmaker Sam Mendes, organizers announced Wednesday.

The Spectre helmer was chosen by the Biennale di Venezia board of directors, chaired by Paolo Baratta, on recommendation by the fest's director Alberto Barbera.

Mendes will be tasked with choosing the Golden Lion for best film and Silver Lion for best director, among other awards. 

"His productions, whether destined for stage or screen, are able to reconcile the expectations of the most exacting critics with the tastes of a vast audience, which seems to transcend all geographical and cultural boundaries," Barbera said of Mendes' selection.

Mendes took home the best directing Oscar in 2000 for his debut film American Beauty, which also won in four other categories, including best picture. He followed that up with Road to Perdition, which competed on the Lido in 2002. Mendes has recently directed James Bond blockbuster films including Skyfall and Spectre.

His next project, The Voyeur's Motel, will be based on the forthcoming novel from Gay Talese about a Colorado man who opened a motel to spy on guests. Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks are attached to produce.

“I'm very honored to have been asked by Alberto to lead the International Jury for Venezia 73," said Mendes of the announcement. "I've always had a strong personal connection with Venice; as a student I worked for three months at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection way back in 1984, and my happiest film festival memory is launching Road To Perdition at Venice in 2002. I am thoroughly delighted to be coming back to the Lido this year and welcoming a wealth of international filmmaking talent.”

Last year, Venice regular Alfonso Cuaron headed the jury, awarding the Golden Lion for the first time to a Latin American film, Venezuelan drama From Afar. The event has been gaining more traction recently with a slew of recent films launched from Venice going on to win big at the Oscars, including Gravity and best picture Oscar winners Birdman and Spotlight

The fest is set to run Aug. 31-Sept. 10. 

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