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

Venice Film Festival Lion - H 2012
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The board also voted to create a new permanent section that will screen restored films and documentaries from the festival's massive archives.

ROME – The board of directors for the Venice Biennale met for the last time this year on Dec. 21, making several changes to the various sections of the Biennale including adding jury members and revamping the sections of the storied Venice Film Festival.

The Venice Biennale, the film festival’s parent organization, oversees the Biennale exhibitions for art, architecture, dance, music, and theater. Paolo Baratta heads the organization.

In its deliberations, the board voted to increase the number of jury members for the main competition to nine and to seven each for the Horizons sidebar and for the festival’s award for the Best Debut Film named for famed Italian producer Luigi De Laurentiis. The changes are an increase of two members for each of the juries.

The then-seven-member main jury, headed by Michael Mann, sparked a controversy at last year’s festival after it was revealed that they could not give the festival's prestigious Golden Lion prize for Best Film to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master as they planned because it had been given too many other awards. The main prize went instead to the acclaimed Pieta, from South Korea’s Ki-duk Kim.

The board also voted to introduce two new prizes for the Horizons section, which focuses on new trends in cinema. In addition to its standard prizes, the expanded Horizons jury will now award the Horizons Award for Best Director and for Innovative Content.

The board also created a new section called Venice Classics: a sidebar “dedicated to restored films and documentaries about cinema,” drawn from the festival’s archives of films from past editions.

All of the changes will go into effect for the 70th edition of the world’s oldest film festival, which will take place August 28-Sept. 7. It will be the second festival under the artistic direction of Alberto Barbera, the director of the National Film Museum in Turin, who returned to Venice after a decade away.

The second phase of the Biennale College was also formalized. Earlier, officials selected a short list of 15 projects that will be narrowed to three in January. Those three will receive financial and technical backing from the festival and will screen at the 2013 edition. Along with the fledgling Venice Film Market, the Biennale College is one of the two major innovations introduced when he took over as artistic director a year ago.