The main jury of the Venice International Film Festival seems like one of the most celebrated seen in recent years.
The festival to run from August 31 to September 10 on the picturesque island of Lido, off Venice, will have the renowned American director and screenwriter, Darren Aronofsky, presiding over the seven-member jury. His critically acclaimed and several Oscars-nominated Black Swan, opened the festival in 2010.
A racy psychological thriller, Black Swan uses the backdrop of ballet to plot the story of an imagined rivalry between two star ballerinas, one superbly played by Natalie Portman.
Aronofsky will be assisted by an array of famous jurors. And here they are:
The Finnish visual artist, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, whose innumerable works have been exhibited at some of the most important museums of the world, like Tate Modern in London and MoMA in New York.
The composer, visual artist and director, David Byrne, who is known as the force and inspiration behind Talking Heads. Later, he created the highly regarded record label, Luaka Bop. He composed soundtracks for Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (which won him an Oscar), and helmed (acted in and narrated) the original True Stories.
The American director, Todd Hynes, a strong propagator of independent cinema, whose I Am Not Here won the Special Jury Prize at the 2007 Venice. He won the Golden Leopard in Locarno and the Jury Prize at Sundance for his debut movie, “Poison” in 1991.
The Italian film and theatre director, Mario Martone, who was in Competition at Venice in 2010 with the highly raved about Noi Credevamo. He clinched the Special Jury Prize at the Festival in 1992 for his debut work, Death of a Neapolitan Mathematician. He is also well known for his highly experimental theatre in Italy.
The Italian actress, Alba Rohrwacher, one of the most sought-after and applauded artists in recent years. She was seen at the 2010 Venice in The Solitude of Prime Numbers and at the 2009 festival in I Am Love.
The French director and screenwriter, Andre Techine, one of the great masters of the medium, who won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for his Rendezvous in 1985. After a stint as a movie critic with the prestigious Cahiers du Cinema”, he debuted at Venice in 1969 with his Pauline is Leaving. He chose Venice as a location for his 2011 Impardonnables.
The jury will give away several trophies on the festival’s closing night on September 10. They will include the Golden Lion for the Best Film, the Silver Lion for the Best Director, the Special Jury Prize, the Coppa Volpi for the Best Actor and the Coppa Volpi for the Best Actress.
This year, as was the case last year, there is no Indian on the jury. In 2009, the Indian director and script writer, Anurag Kashyap, was part of the jury.
It remains to be seen whether any Indian film will make it to the Lido this year. Venice will announce its selections in a few weeks from now.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran has been covering the Venice International Film Festival for many years, and will write on it this year too)