Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jerzy Skolimowski to Get Venice Film Fest Honors

Jean-Paul Belmondo-Getty-H 2016
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

This year's award recipients celebrate Nouvelle Vague.

French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski will be awarded with Golden Lions for lifetime achievement at the upcoming 73rd Venice International Film Festival, which is set to run Aug. 31-Sept. 10.

Starting this year, Venice Film Fest will award not one, but two career Golden Lions. One will be given to a director, or someone on the film production side, and the other will be given to an actor. 

Belmondo is an icon of the French Nouvelle Vague who has brought to life memorable characters over the years through his work with filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless), Francois Truffaut (Mississippi Mermaid) and Claude Chabrol (Leda).

The actor's work with Godard was particularly memorable with the film Pierrot le Fou, which premiered in competition at Venice in 1965, as was his portrayal of Michel Poiccard/Laszlo in 1960's Breathless, creating a new type of provocative antihero on the big screen.

Belmondo had many later successes as well, including Henri Verneuil's The Night Caller (1975) and Georges Lautner's The Professional (1981).

“Thanks to his fascinating face, irresistible charm and extraordinary versatility, he has played roles in dramas, adventure movies and even comedies, making him a star who is universally respected, by engagé directors and escapist cinema alike,” festival director Alberto Barbera said Thursday in a statement.

Honoring the other side of Nouvelle Vauge, Skolimowski will pick up a Golden Lion for his 50-year career during which he made 17 films, each one unique in production style but similar in its personal storytelling.

“Jerzy Skolimowski is one of the most representative exponents of the modern cinema born during the nouvelles vagues of the 1960s,” said Barbera. “He and Roman Polanski are the two filmmakers who contributed most to the renewal of Polish cinema during that same period.”

Skolimowski came on to the scene with a Polish-shot trilogy: Rysopis (1964), Walkover (1965) and Barrier (1966), representing to Eastern cinema what Godard represented to Western cinema. His later films, noted for their nonconformist style, were well-received on the international film festival circuit: The Departure (1967, Golden Bear winner at the Berlin Film Festival), The Shout (1978, Grand Prix winner at the Cannes Film Festival), Hands Up! (1981) and Moonlighting (1982, best screenplay winner at Cannes).

Skolimowski's recent works shot after the director returned to Poland continue to show an evolution in style and vision: Four Nights With Anna (2008), Essential Killing (2010, Special Jury Prize winner at Venice) and 11 Minutes (2015, Venice competition entry).