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Venice Fest to Honor 'Exorcist' Director William Friedkin With Special Award

REP SHEET: William Friedkin
Friedkin

The world's oldest film festival will fete him with a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement and screen a restored version of his thriller "Sorcerer."

ROME – William Friedkin, the Oscar-winning director behind The Exorcist and The French Connection, will receive a lifetime achievement honor at the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival, organizers announced Thursday.

Venice’s second-year artistic director Alberto Barbera praised Friedkin, saying he has “contributed in a prominent way -- the revolutionary impact of which has not always been recognized -- to the profound renewal of American cinema regarded as the ‘New Hollywood.’”

It will not be Friedkin’s first trip to Venice: his 1995 crime drama Jade premiered out of competition on the Lido, and two years ago Killer Joe, another crime thriller that starred Matthew McConaughey as a Texas hit man, screened in competition.

In a statement, Friedkin, who will turn 78 during the festival, said he was thrilled to receive the Venice honor.

“Venice, especially during the film festival, is a spiritual home to me,” he said. “The Golden Lion is something I never expected but am proud to accept it with gratitude and love.”

In conjunction with the honor, Friedkin will present a restored version of his 1977 thriller Sorcerer, which the director said was the “most personal film” among the three dozen he's directed, and also "the most difficult to achieve."

The 70th edition of the Venice festival will take place August 28 to Sept. 7. The festival will unveil its full lineup in July.

Twitter: @EricJLyman