British director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Skyfall, Spectre) will be the president of the International Jury of the Competition at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival (August 31 – September 10, 2016), which will assign the Golden Lion for best film, as well as other official awards. The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennaledi Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, on the recommendation of the Festival’s Director, Alberto Barbera.
Right from his 1988 debut as a theatrical director, Sam Mendes made a name for himself as one of the outstanding figures in British theatre, winning numerous awards. He later also established himself as one of the most highly respected film directors of recent years. His debut behind the movie camera was dazzling: in 2000, American Beauty won five Oscars, including best director and best picture. He next directed Road to Perdition, which competed at the 2002 Venice Film Festival. Since then, Sam Mendes has been a regular on London’s stages and on the sets of Hollywood films, all the way up to the extraordinary success of the 23rd James Bond movie, Skyfall, confirmed by the next in the series, Spectre, also directed by Mendes.
Says Festival Director Alberto Barbera, “Sam Mendes’ work is a particularly effective and convincing synthesis of a vocation for distinctive theatre and cinema, combined with research into methods of communication with increasingly large numbers of spectators. His productions, whether destined for stage or screen, are able to reconcile the expectations of the most exacting critics with the tastes of a vast audience which seems to transcend all geographical and cultural boundaries.”
Says Sam Mendes, “I’m very honoured to have been asked by Alberto to lead the International Jury for Venezia 73. I’ve always had a strong personal connection with Venice; as a student I worked for three months at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection way back in 1984, and my happiest film festival memory is launching Road To Perdition at Venice in 2002. I am thoroughly delighted to be coming back to the Lido this year and welcoming a wealth of international filmmaking talent.”
On the final night of the upcoming 73rd Film Festival (September 10, 2016), the International Jury ofVenezia 73, chaired by Sam Mendes and composed of nine international celebrities in the spheres of film and culture, will assign the following official prizes to feature-length films in the Competition:
Golden Lion for best film
Grand Jury Prize
Volpi Cup for Best Actor
Volpi Cup for Best Actress
Special Jury Prize
Marcello Mastroianni Award to an emerging actor or actress
In 1998 Sam Mendes directed his first film American Beauty, winning the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture, as well as the Golden Globe and Directors’ Guild Awards. He has since directed the Academy Award-winning Road to Perdition with Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, and Jude Law, which debuted at the Venice Film Festival, Jarhead with Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx, Revolutionary Road with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Away We Go, the BAFTA and Academy Award-winning Skyfall and Spectre, starring Daniel Craig.
Sam Mendes’s work directing theatre spans 25 years. At 24 years old he became the first Artistic Director of the Minerva Theatre in Chichester, England. At 27 he founded the Donmar Warehouse in London, which he ran for ten years, and where he directed many productions including Assassins, Translations, Glengarry Glen Ross, Company, The Glass Menagerie, Habeas Corpus, Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night. It is now one of the world’s leading playhouses.
Sam has directed for the Royal Shakespeare Company –Troilus and Cressida with Ralph Fiennes, Richard III, The Tempest and The Alchemist; for the National Theatre –The Sea with Judi Dench, The Birthday Party, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Othello and King Lear; in the West End –The Cherry Orchard, London Assurance, Kean, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and on Broadway – Cabaret with Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming, The Blue Room with Nicole Kidman, Gypsy, and The Vertical Hour with Julianne Moore.
In 2009 Sam founded the Bridge Project, a transatlantic theatre company, for which he directed The Winter’s Tale with Ethan Hawke, The Cherry Orchard, The Tempest, As You Like It and Richard III with Kevin Spacey. His many awards include: three Olivier Awards, three Tony Awards, the Evening Standard Award, three Critics’ Choice Awards, five Empire Awards, the BAFTA John Schlesinger Award and the Hamburg Shakespeare Prize.
In 2003 he founded Neal Street Productions, which produces three BAFTA award-winning television series – Penny Dreadful, Call the Midwife and The Hollow Crown -along with many other films and plays.
He was awarded a CBE in 2000 and the Directors’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.