Last year the festival set top Oscar nominee Joker on its current path to glory, awarding the film the best film and best actor gongs, while Marriage Story proved a major hit as well.
The Festival has also world premiered recent Oscar winners Gravity, Spotlight and The Shape of Water and has reinvented itself under the direction of Alberto Barbera.
The oldest of festivals, now in its 77th year, has issued a statement from Blanchett, 50, who during her illustrious career has garnered two Oscars, SIX AFI/AACTA awards, three BAFTAs, three Golden Globes as well as multiple nominations. And that’s not mentioning her work as artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company from 2008-2013.
“Every year I look expectantly to the selection at Venice and every year it is surprising and distinct,” she says. “Venice is one of the most atmospheric film festivals in the world – a celebration of the provocative and inspirational medium that is cinema in all its forms. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be this year’s jury president.”
Barbera notes: “Cate Blanchett is not just an icon of contemporary cinema, courted by the greatest directors of the past twenty years and adored by moviegoers of every kind. Her commitment in the artistic and humanitarian fields and to the protection of the environment, as well as her defense of the emancipation of women in a film industry still coming to terms with male prejudice, have made her an inspiration for society as a whole. Her immense talent as an actress, combined with her unique intelligence and sincere passion for cinema, are the ideal qualities for a Jury President. It will be a great pleasure to welcome her to Venice again in this new capacity, after having applauded her magnificent performances in the films Elizabeth by Shekhar Kapur and I’m Not There by Todd Haynes, which won her the Coppa Volpi as Best Actress in 2007.”
It always helps when juries are led by outspoken or articulate celebrities and the announcement comes hot on the heels of the report that Spike Lee is jury head in Cannes. He is bound to wreak some havoc, though following his huge Croisette hit with BlacKkKlansman, will probably leave behind his ill feelings regarding not winning for Do the Right Thing in 1989 when Wim Wenders was jury head. (He lost to sex, lies and videotape.)
In 2018, Guillermo del Toro was Venice jury president and had quite the supporting crew on board, including Naomi Watts and an ever-lively Taika Waititi attempting to take it all seriously. “I’m a very judgmental person, so it isn’t an effort for me. I thrive on judging and I’m very critical,” he quipped at the jury press conference. We can only hope Blanchett’s jury includes some other lively film folk as well.
Top Photo Credit: Steven Chee