An Honorary Golden Bear and Homage for Oscar-winner Milena Canonero

Posted by Larry Gleeson


The Homage of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival is dedicated to Italian costume designer Milena Canonero, who will also receive an Honorary Golden Bear for her lifetime achievement.


Milena Canonero is one of the world’s most celebrated costume designers. She has worked with a long list of directors, including Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola, Sydney Pollack, Warren Beatty, Roman Polanski, Steven Soderbergh, Louis Malle, Tony Scott, Barbet Schroeder, Sofia Coppola, and Wes Anderson. Over the years she has won four Academy Awards for her outstanding costume designs and has been nominated five other times.

Berlinale-“Milena Canonero is an extraordinary costume designer. With her designs she has contributed decisively to the style of many cinematic masterpieces. With this year’s Homage, we would like to honour a great artist as well as direct attention to another film profession,” says Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick.

Milena Canonero’s designs result from extensive art historical research and sophisticated concepts. She never just adopts parameters from fashion history but adapts them creatively for each movie. In doing so she excels not only in the art of subtly accentuating a character’s personality but also in enhancing the texture of a film through very detailed and original designs. Her creations have influenced global fashion trends and inspired fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen and Ralph Lauren.

Right at the beginning of her career Canonero met Stanley Kubrick and it was for his film A Clockwork Orange (United Kingdom / USA 1971) that she designed her first film costumes. With them white lost its innocence and set a new benchmark for costume design. Already with her second work for Kubrick, Barry Lyndon (United Kingdom / USA 1975), she took home her first Academy Award for Best Costume Design (shared with Ulla-Britt Söderlund).

Next came Kubrick’s The Shining (United Kingdom / USA 1980) and Hugh Hudson’s Chariots of Fire (United Kingdom 1981), for which she received her second Academy Award, as well as Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club (USA 1984) and Sydney Pollack’s Out of Africa (United Kingdom / USA 1985).

For Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part III (USA 1990), Milena Canonero took inspiration from the painters of the Renaissance. She made use of both subdued dark hues and striking colour compositions. In the same year, Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (USA 1990) was completed. For it Canonero drew on classic cuts from 1930s fashion, while referencing the original comic strip by choosing clear bright colours for the fabrics of the costumes. She limited herself to the three primary colours, plus black and white, as well as five mixed colours – and used them consistently throughout the film for all the costumes and accessories.

For Barbet Schroeder’s Single White Female (USA 1992), Milena Canonero was not only responsible for the costumes, but also for the production design. Later she received her third Academy Award for the pastel and candy-coloured garments in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (France / Japan / USA 2006).

In past years Milena Canonero has participated in the Berlinale with two films directed by Wes Anderson – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (USA 2004) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (USA / Germany 2014). For her extraordinary purple and mauve hotel staff uniforms, and the fanciful design of Madame D.’s gown from The Grand Budapest Hotel, Milena Canonero won her fourth Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

Rainer Rother, Head of the Retrospective and Homage and Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kinemathek (Photo via

“What is also so impressive about Milena Canonero is the versatility of her artistic interests. Her costume designs for productions at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, and the Vienna State Opera, as well as for Roman Polanski’s stage adaptation of Amadeus have brought her international recognition and success too,” comments Rainer Rother, Head of the Retrospective and Homage and Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kinemathek.

In addition Milena Canonero recently co-produced the film Romeo & Juliet (United Kingdom / Italy / Switzerland 2013) by Carlo Carlei, and finished directing her first commercial. Currently she is developing a documentary about the costume and production designer Piero Tosi.

The presentation of the Honorary Golden Bear at the Berlinale Palast on February 16, 2017 will be accompanied by a screening of the film The Shining (United Kingdom / USA 1980) by Stanley Kubrick.


The ten films in the Homage are:

Barry Lyndon (United Kingdom / USA 1975, director: Stanley Kubrick)
Chariots of Fire (United Kingdom 1981, director: Hugh Hudson)
A Clockwork Orange (United Kingdom / USA 1971, director: Stanley Kubrick)
The Cotton Club (USA 1984, director: Francis Ford Coppola)
Dick Tracy (USA 1990, director: Warren Beatty)
The Godfather. Part III (USA 1990, director: Francis Ford Coppola)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (USA / Germany 2014, director: Wes Anderson)
Marie Antoinette (France / Japan / USA 2006, director: Sofia Coppola)
Out of Africa (United Kingdom / USA 1985, director: Sydney Pollack)
The Shining (United Kingdom / USA 1980, director: Stanley Kubrick)


(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

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