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William Friedkin Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

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at the 70th Festival, Friedkin will present the restored version of Sorcerer (1977)
08 | 29 | 2013

American director William Friedkin will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 70 Venice International Film Festival (28 August – 7 September 2013).
 
The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennale chaired by Paolo Baratta, upon recommendation of the Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera.
 
In presenting his recommendation for the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to the Board of Directors, Alberto Barbera wrote that William Friedkin “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’. Friedkin exploded the rules of documentary filmmaking in several works for television that were seminal for their dry, harsh and unpredictable point of view, and later revolutionized the popular genres of the crime film and the horror film, basically inventing the modern blockbuster with The French Connection (1971, which won five Oscars, including Best Film and Best Director) and The Exorcist  (1973). He was the director of films far ahead of their time, such as Sorcerer (1977), Cruising (1980), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) and Jade (1995, presented at the Venice Film Festival in the Notti veneziane section), some of which were only later reassessed as authentic masterpieces”.  
Friedkin was recently acclaimed by critics and the public alike at the 2011 Venice Film Festival for Killer Joe, presented in the Competition section.
 
“Venice, especially during the Film Festival, is a spiritual home to me,” said William Friedkin. “The Golden Lion is something I never expected but am proud to accept with gratitude and love”.
 
William Friedkin will receive the award on 29th August 2013 during the 70th Venice Film Festival, where he will present the Warner Bros. restored version of Sorcerer (1977).
An original new take on Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Wages of Fear (itself an adaptation of Georges Arnaud’s 1950 novel), Sorcerer shifts Friedkin’s trademark urban settings to the depth of South American Jungle, where the director’s passion for realism and flawless instinct for suspense blend to masterful effect in the legendary, nerve-wrecking bridge-crossing scene. A difficult production to begin with, Sorcerer was a controversial film at the time of its release (a week or so after George Lucas’ Star Wars). Since then it has become one of Friedkin’s most critically praised titles and one of the hardest to experience on a big screen. “I consider Sorcerer my most personal film and the most difficult to achieve. To realize that it’s going to have a new life in cinema is something for which I’m deeply grateful. To have its world premiere at the Venice Festival is something I look forward to with great joy. It is truly a Lazarus moment.”
 
The Warner Bros. restoration of Sorcerer began with a 4k film resolution scan of the original 35mm camera negative.  The restoration project is being completed under the direction of William Friedkin along with colorist Bryan McMahan, who has worked with Friedkin since 1994 and Ned Price of Warner Bros. who oversees restoration projects for the studio.  “I was amazed at the brilliance of the original photography up to this point I had only seen poor quality 35mm theatrical prints made from inferior subtitled dupe negatives, working with the original camera negative will finally allow viewers to appreciate the visual impact of this film”, Ned Price said.
 
In the justification for the award, Alberto Barbera also writes that over the years, Friedkin has demonstrated “a risky loyalty to his own ideals which, as it distanced him from the centre of Hollywood filmmaking, led him to look to independent cinema to find the freedom he needed to pursue a perennially off-beam language, consisting of a striking, visionary, hallucinatory visual instinct, and yet starved of reality even when it seems lost in the kinetic, detached and perfectionist frenzy of its compelling action and chase sequences, which are an emblematic trademark of his work. William Friedkin continues even now to represent the model of a demanding, intellectually honest, emotionally intense, programmatically adventurous cinema: a powerful and generous antidote to the growing standardization of contemporary cinema”.
 
His autobiography, The Friedkin Connection (HarperCollins) has just been published in the United States, and is currently being translated into Italian by Bompiani, which will present a preview of the book in Venice.
 
William Friedkin - Biographical Note
For sheer cinematic punch, it’s hard to equal the films of director William Friedkin - THE EXORCIST, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, SORCERER and TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. are such great yet hard-hitting pleasures to watch, so downright addictive, that it’s easy to forget what a meticulous craftsman Friedkin is on every level. A veteran of live television in the 1950s, Friedkin trained in documentary filmmaking in the mid-1960s - training that led to the unnerving, you-are-there realism of THE FRENCH CONNECTION and the terrible beauty of THE EXORCIST and SORCERER. "What I try to do before each film is immerse myself totally in the subject before I expose a frame of film", Friedkin observed.
In 1971, his THE FRENCH CONNECTION was released to wide critical acclaim. Shot in a gritty style more suited for documentaries than Hollywood features, the film won five Academy Awards, including Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director.
Friedkin followed up with 1973's THE EXORCIST, based on William Peter Blatty's best-selling novel, which revolutionized the horror genre and is considered by some critics to be the greatest horror movie of all time. The Exorcist was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won the Best Screenplay Award. His action/crime movie TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. (1985), won the Audience Award at the Cognac Film Festival. Starring William Petersen and Willem Dafoe, it was a critical favorite and drew favorable comparisons to Friedkin's own THE FRENCH CONNECTION.
Friedkin started directing operas in 1998 with a widely-acclaimed production of Berg’s Wozzeck at Maggio Musicale in Florence. He followed that in 2002 with a double bill of Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi at Los Angeles Opera. In 2004 at Los Angeles Opera, he directed R. Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. Other operas include:  2005, Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah at the New Israeli Opera, Tel Aviv, and Verdi’s Aida at the Teatro Regio Torino in Torino, Italy; 2006/07, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle/Gianni Schicchi - Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center, and Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, Germany, new productions of Strauss’ Salome and the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Das Gehege; 2008, a double bill of Suor Angelica/Il Tabarro at Los Angeles Opera. 2011 marked Mr. Friedkin’s return to Maggio Musicale, Florence with Leos Janácek's The Makropulos Case. In 2012 he directed Offenbach's The Tales Of Hoffmann at Theater An der Wien, Vienna, Austria.
Within the last two decades, Friedkin has returned to his early roots in television drama with the highly acclaimed 12 ANGRY MEN, and has directed episodes of CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION. He has also directed such searing action films as RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and THE HUNTED; BUG, which won the Fipresci Prize in Cannes, and his most recent film, KILLER JOE starring Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch which was released in 2012.