In what seems like a first anywhere in the world, the Venice International Film Festival
has picked the internationally renowned French composer, Alexandre Desplat, to chair its top competition jury. It will award the Golden Lion for the Best Movie, Silver Lions for the Best Director, the Best Actor and the Best Actress as well as the Grand Prize among others.
Desplat was nominated on no less than six occasions for the Oscar (The Queen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fantastic Mr Fox, The King's Speech, Argo, and Philomena), but was unfortunate never to have actually clinched it even once. But, of course, he has won many other honours – including a Golden Globe and three Cesars (regarded as the French Oscars).
The composer has worked with celebrity directors, such as Stephen Frears, Roman Polanski, Terrence Malick, Tom Hooper, Jacques Audiard, Kathryn Bigelow, David Fincher, George Clooney, Ang Lee, Ben Affleck, David Yates, Wes Anderson and Matteo Garrone.
“Alexandre Desplat is not only one of the greatest composers of film scores today, but an ardent cinephile, whose extraordinary artistic sensitivity is sustained by a profound knowledge of cinema, of its history, of its language”, stated the Festival Director, Alberto Barbera.
Desplat – who has often said that he tries to create a vibration between the music and the image, to find a balance between function and fiction and who considers movie music as another actor in the frame, interacting with dialogues, sounds and camera movements – was raised by a Greek mother and a French father in a beautifully musical and cultural environment.
Desplat studied piano, trumpet and flute, and grew up listening to the French symphonists Ravel and Debussy, jazz, world music and film soundtracks. While recording his first movie, he met Dominique Solrey Lemonnier, the violinist who became his concertmaster, artistic director and eventually wife.
The 71st edition of the Festival, the oldest in the world, runs on the island of Lido, off mainland Venice, from August 27 to September 6. (Gautaman Bhaskaran has covered the Venice International Film Festival for about 15 years and will be back there this year, and he may be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org )