Francesco Rosi to Get Lifetime Achievement Award at Venice Film Fest

Francesco Rosi - H 2012
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The 89-year-old director and screenwriter has been a leading figure in Italian cinema since the 1950s.

ROME -- Italian director and screenwriter Francesco Rosi will be given the Venice Film Festival’s prestigious Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at this year’s 69th edition of the fest, organizers said Thursday.

Rosi, 89, has been a leading figure in Italian cinema in a directorial career that started in the 1950s and lasted until 1997. Since then, Rossi has remained active but has focused his energies instead on stage productions.

Rosi’s is a familiar presence on the prize stage in Venice: in 1958, he won the festival’s special jury prize for La Sfida (The Challenge), one of his most celebrated films, which tells the story of a local crime figure who tries to corner the regional fruit and vegetable market while standing up to the Neapolitan organized crime families.

Rosi also won Venice’s Golden Lion for best film five years later with greed and corruption drama Le mani sulla citta (Hands Over the City) and has made many other appearances on the Lido.

Rosi’s long honor roll also includes four Palme d’Or nominations in Cannes and a win in 1972 for Il caso Mattei (The Mattei Affair), a Silver Bear in Berlin for Salvatore Giuliano in 1961, seven David di Donatello honors and career achievement honors from the Taormina International Film Festival in 2004, the Donatellos in 2008 and  the Berlin International Film Festival in 2008.

“In his long though not very prolific career, Rosi has left an indelible mark on the history of Italian filmmaking after World War II,” Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said. “His work has influenced generations of filmmakers around the world for its method, style, moral severity and the ability to bring urgent social issues onto the screen.”

Rosi said he was pleased to be acknowledged by the world’s oldest film festival. “I am honored and very happy to receive this extremely prestigious award,” he said.

Rossi will be honored Aug. 31, ahead of a special screening of a restored copy of Il caso Mattei, which was completed by The Film Foundation, the nonprofit film preservation organization run by director Martin Scorsese.

The Venice festival is set for Aug. 29-Sept. 8.