La Biennale di Venezia and Persol are pleased to announce that the great American director, screenwriter, and producer Michael Cimino will be honoured with the Persol 2012 award of the Venice International Film Festival which aims to celebrate a legend of international filmmaking.
In speaking about this award for Michael Cimino, Festival Director Alberto Barbera said: “It is a belated but long overdue acknowledgment of the greatness of a visionary filmmaker, one of the most intense and original voices in American filmmaking of the last forty years, gradually reduced to silence after the box-office flop of a masterpiece to which the film producers contributed with senseless cuts. By virtue of his immense talent, Cimino has exalted the filmmaking art and offered a portrait of America both critical and passionate, lucid and compelling.”
The Persol Award will be presented to Michael Cimino at a ceremony on Thursday 30 August at the Lido during the 69th Venice International Film Festival (29 August – 8 September 2012), directed by Alberto Barbera and organized by la Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta.
Following the award ceremony, Michael Cimino’s masterpiece Heaven’s Gate (1980, 219’) will be screened in the new Criterion edition, digitally restored under the supervision of the filmmaker, at 14.30 at the Sala Perla (Palazzo del Casinò), as part of the Venezia Classici section of the 69th Film Festival.
Heaven’s Gate was originally presented in its full-length version in Venice at the 1982 Film Festival, directed by Carlo Lizzani, in the Mezzogiorno-Mezzanotte section curated by Enzo Ungari.
At the 2001 edition of the Venice Film Festival under the direction of Alberto Barbera, Michael Cimino presented his novel Big Jane, of which he conducted a staged reading.
Persol will be sponsoring the Venice International Film Festival for the eighth consecutive year.
Winner of two Academy Awards for The Deer Hunter (1979), Michael Cimino is one of the most appreciated and influential filmmakers of his generation (the so-called New Hollywood of the 1970s). He studied architecture and drama, and subsequently began his career in filmmaking with documentaries. The screenplay of his remarkable feature-length film debut, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), was directed from his original screenplay and the lead actor (in the role of a bank robber) was Clint Eastwood. The film also marked the first major role for Jeff Bridges, who won an Academy Award nomination.
Wide public and critical acclaim arrived with the director’s second feature film, The Deer Hunter (1979), an atypical war movie about an America torn by issues that threatened its basic values and unable to overcome the “Vietnam Syndrome”, starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Savage and Meryl Streep. The film won 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, out of the 9 nominations it had received. The Deer Hunter is a film of great emotional and visual impact, in which Cimino directed his cast with an extreme but nevertheless effective directorial style, forcefully claiming his place in the history of world filmmaking. After the success of the film, Cimino went on to direct Heaven’s Gate (1980) from his original screenplay. Heaven’s Gate is a powerful, poignant and ambitious Western epic devoid of any idealization. The film was shown in the original 219 minutes director’s cut for only one week in New York. United Artists then re-cut the film to 2½-hour and released it a year later and it was one of the most controversial film of all time. In subsequent years, however, it was reassessed and is now considered by many a great classic movie.
During the 1980s Cimino directed three films: the first, Year of the Dragon (1985), with Mickey Rourke in the lead role, is a splendid portrait of the Chinese Mafia co-written by the director and Oliver Stone, confirming his forward-looking visual aesthetics. He then went on to direct The Sicilian (1987), starring Christopher Lambert and John Turturro, and Desperate Hours (1990), starring Mickey Rourke, Anthony Hopkins and Mimi Rogers, a remake of the 1955 William Wyler crime classic with Humphrey Bogart. In 1996 Cimino was back in the director’s chair to helm The Sunchaser, starring Woody Harrelson, selected as the official American Competition entry at Cannes. In all of his films Cimino has sought to celebrate the American landscape.