Italian director Alice Rohrwacher has been named president of the International Jury for the Luigi De Laurentiis (Award for a Debut Film) at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. It runs from August 27 to September 6.
The jury will have seven men and women from across the world, including one movie producer. And it will choose one film from among the first features in the various competitive sections. The cash prize will be $100,000, and it will be shared between the director and the producer.
The youngest Italian to compete at the Cannes Film Festival, Rohrwacher (32), won the Grand Prix in May for The Wonders. The movie is about a family of bee-kepers struggling to preserve its traditional agricultural activity. It is also a powerful commentary on the vanishing familial ties in a country like Italy, known for the strong mother figure and her efforts to keep husband and children together in a tight bond.
Rohrwacher got a well-deserved directing bow at the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes three years ago. The movie was Heavenly Body.
The Venice Film Festival is the oldest such event in the world having been founded in 1932, and was in its early years a powerful platform for Fascist propaganda films. Even the prizes were manipulated to honour cinema which sang praises of Hitler and Mussolini.
And a time came when the French were so peeved with what was happening at Venice that they decided to establish their own movie festival. Cannes was born in 1936, but Hitler's invasion of Poland that year, just as the festival was into its third day, led to its premature closure. Cannes could only resume after World War II ended in 1945.