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Thelma Schoonmaker and Frederick Wiseman Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement

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07 | 18 | 2014

Two American filmmakers, film editor Thelma Schoonmaker and film director Frederick Wiseman, are the recipients of the Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement of the 71st Venice International Film Festival (27 August – 6 September 2014).
The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta, on the recommendation of the Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera.
Thelma Schoonmaker is widely acknowledged as one of the most remarkable film editors working today, as proven by the three Oscars (Raging Bull, The Aviator, The Departed) and the two BAFTAs (Raging Bull, Goodfellas) she has won over the course of her lengthy career. Her collaboration with director Martin Scorsese began in 1967 when she edited Who’s That Knocking at my Door. Since 1980 she has edited all of Scorsese’s feature-length films including the most recent, The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). In addition to her activity as a film editor, Schoonmaker works relentlessly to promote the films and writings of director Michael Powell, her late husband. With Thelma Schoonmaker, this is the first time that the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement has been awarded by the Venice Film Festival to an artist in the field of film editing.
Frederick Wiseman is an independent documentary filmmaker. He has made 39 documentaries and 2 fiction films: dramatic narrative films that seek to portray ordinary human experience within a wide variety of contemporary social institutions. His documentaries include Titicut Follies (1967), Welfare (1975), Public Housing (1997), Near Death (1989), La Comédie Française ou L’amour joué (1996), La danse – Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris (2009) and At Berkeley (2013, presented at the Venice Film Festival as were six of his previous films). Wiseman has won many awards including four Emmys, a MacArthur Prize Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He also works in theatre, where he directed The Last Letter, based on the novel Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman, and Happy Days by Samuel Beckett at the Comédie Française. His most recent work is National Gallery (2014), presented at the latest Cannes Film Festival.
The complete programme of the 71st Venice International Film Festival will be presented at a press conference which will take place on July 24th in Rome, at the Hotel St. Regis (11:00 am).
Thelma Schoonmaker Powell was born in Algiers, Algeria, where her father worked for the Standard Oil Company. She grew up on the island of Aruba and after returning to the United States, attended Cornell University, where she studied political science and Russian, intending to become a diplomat. While doing graduate work at Columbia University, she answered a New York Times ad that offered on-the-job training as an assistant film editor. The exposure to the field sparked a desire to learn more about film editing, and her career was set. During a six-week summer course at New York University’s film school she met Martin Scorsese and Michael Wadleigh. Within a few years she was editing Scorsese’s first feature, Who’s that Knocking at My Door (1967). She then edited a series of films and commercials before supervising the editing of Wadleigh’s 1971 film Woodstock, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1981 she won the Academy Award, the American Cinema Editors Eddie Award, and the BAFTA Award for her editing of Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980). Since then, she has worked on all of Scorsese’s feature films: The King of Comedy (1982), After Hours (1985), The Color of Money (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), New York Stories (1989, the Life Lessons segment), GoodFellas (1990), which earned her another BAFTA Award and another Oscar nomination, Cape Fear (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993), Casino (1995), Kundun (1997), A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies (1995, Martin Scorsese’s documentary on the first 100 years of American film), Bringing out the Dead (1999), Il Mio Viaggio in Italia (2001, Martin Scorsese’s documentary on the Italian Cinema), Gangs of New York (2002) for which she earned another Oscar nomination and won the American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for Best Dramatic Film Editing, The Aviator (2004), for which she won her second Academy Award and the American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for Best Dramatic Film Editing, The Departed (2006) for which she won her third Academy Award and her fourth American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for Best Dramatic Film Editing (tied with Babel), Shutter Island (2010), Hugo (2011) for which she received an Oscar nomination, an American Cinema Editors Best Dramatic Film Editing nomination and a BAFTA nomination, and most recently The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) for which she received an American Cinema Editors nomination and a BAFTA nomination. In addition to editing, she works tirelessly to promote the films and writings of her late husband, the film director Michael Powell. In collaboration with The Film Foundation she closely supervised extensive restorations of The Red Shoes (1948) The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), and The Tales of Hoffmann (1951), the latter of which had its world restoration premiere at this year's Venice Film Festival.
Frederick Wiseman is an independent documentary filmmaker. Since 1967 he has directed 41 films, 39 of them documentaries—dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray ordinary human experience in a wide variety of contemporary social institutions. His subjects have included a state hospital for the criminally insane, a high school, a welfare center, juvenile court, a boxing gym, ballet companies in New York and Paris, Central Park, a racetrack, and a Parisian cabaret theater. New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis writes: “Taken together, this is work that presents a sweeping, continuing portrait of modern America, its institutions, social relations, administrative and bureaucratic controls and of course—right at the center of this filmmaker’s unyielding frame—its people.” Mr. Wiseman has directed two fiction features, Seraphita’s Diary (1982) and The Last Letter (2002). He also works in the theater. In Paris he directed The Belle of Amherst, the play by William Luce about the life of Emily Dickinson, and two plays at La Comédie Française—Samuel Beckett’s Oh Les Beaux Jours, and La Dernière Lettre, based on a chapter of Vasily Grossman’s novel, Life and Fate. He also directed The Last Letter (the English version of La Dernière Lettre) at the Theater for a New Audience in New York. The French publisher, Gallimard, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, jointly published the book, Frederick Wiseman, which offers a comprehensive overview of his work through a series of original essays by distinguished critics and artists.
Mr. Wiseman received his BA from Williams College in 1951 and his LLB from Yale Law School in 1954. He has received honorary doctorates from Bowdoin College, Princeton University, and Williams College, among others. He is a MacArthur Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has won numerous awards, including four Emmys. He is also the recipient of the Career Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Film Society (2013); the George Polk Career Award (2006); and the American Society of Cinematographers Distinguished Achievement Award (2006), among many others. In addition, Frederick Wiseman is a member of multiple artistic associations, including: Theater for a New Audience; The Artistic Council and Board of Directors, Festival Committee, Human Rights Watch International Film Festival; Honorary Member, Les Amis du Cinéma du Réel Association; and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.