Exterior of the 2004 Venice Film Festival, 2004, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b9/Golden_Lion_Venice_Film_Festival_2004_3.jpg

The festival began as a non-competitive event but turned into a competition in 1935 to increase participation.  The first award, known as the “Coppa Mussolini” or Mussolini Cup, was introduced in 1935.[1]  The Mussolini Cup yet again demonstrates the power of the government during this time that awarded an international prize in the name of one man who “represents” a nation and industry.  In hindsight, we can conclude that Mussolini’s assertion of himself as a prominent figure feeds into his regime’s development of a cult of personality and was nothing more than a way to have his name (and his country) associated with a desirable award.

After World War II, the Festival was once again held in the Palazzo del Cinema in 1949, with the introduction of a new award- the Golden Lion of St. Mark was adopted to replace the Mussolini Cup.  The Film Festival’s counsel recognized the need to break away from its Fascist origins and replaced the Mussolini Cup with the Golden Lion of St. Mark to emphasize the city and its involvement in cinema rather than its former dictator.  Awarding the Golden Lion  was a way for the festival to cut ties with the recent past and connect with the city’s mythical roots.

[1] The Venice Biennale, http://www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/history/


Photo Source: The Venice Biennale, http://www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/history/

Golden Lion Award Recipients

2011: Faust (Russia) by Aleksander Sokurov

2010: Somewhere (USA) by Sofia Coppola

2009: Lebanon (Israel, France, Germany) by Samuel Maoz

2008: The Wrestler (USA) by Darren Aronofsky

2007: Se, jie (Lust, Caution) (USA/China/China, Taiwan) by Ang Lee

2006: Sanxia haoren (Still Life) (China) by Jia Zhangke

2005: Brokeback Mountain (USA) by Ang Lee

2004: Vera Drake (UK) by Mike Leigh

2003: Vozvrashcheniye (The Return) (Russia) by Andrei Zvyagintsev

2002: The Magdalene Sisters (UK) by Peter Mullan

2001: Monsoon Wedding (USA) by Mira Nair

2000: Dayereh (Iran) by Jafar Panahi

1999: Not One Less (China) by Zhang Yimou

1998: Così ridevano (Italy) by Gianni Amelio

1997: Hana-bi (Japan) by Takeshi Kitano

1996: Michael Collins (Ireland) by Neil Jordan

1995: Cyclo (Vietnam) by Tran Ahn Hung

1994: Before the Rain by Milcho Manchevski (Republic of Macedonia) and Aiqing wansui – Vive l’amour by Tsai Ming-liang (China), joint winners

1993: Short Cuts by Robert Altman (Usa) and Trois couleurs. Bleu by Krzysztof Kieslowski (France), joint winners

1992: Qui Ju da guansi (The Story of Qiu Ju) by Zhang Yimou (China)

1991: Urga by Nikita Mikhalkov (URSS)

1990: Rosencrantz and Guildestern are dead by Tom Stoppard (UK)

1989: Beiqing shenghsi (A City of Sadness) by Hou Xiaoxian (Taiwan)

1988: La leggenda del santo bevitore by Ermanno Olmi (Italy)

1987: Au revoir les enfants by Louis Malle (France)

1986: Le rayon vert by Eric Rohmer (France)

1985: Sans toit ni loi by Agnès Varda (France)

1984: Rol Spokojnego Slonca (The Year of the Quiet Sun) by Krzysztof Zanussi (Poland)

1983: Prénom Carmen by Jean-Luc Godard (France)

1982: Der Stand der Dinge (The State of Things) by Wim Wenders (West Germany)

1981: Die Bleierne Zeit (The German Sisters) by Margarethe von Trotta (West Germany)

1980: Atlantic City by Louis Malle (Canada) and Gloria by John Cassavetes (Usa), joint winners

1969-1979: awards not assigned

1968: Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos (West Germany) by Alexander Kluge

1967: Belle de jour (France) by Luis Buñuel

1966: La battaglia di Algeri by Gillo Pontecorvo

1965: Vaghe stelle dell’Orsa by Luchino Visconti

1964: Deserto rosso by Michelangelo Antonioni

1963: Le mani sulla città by Francesco Rosi

1962: Ivanovo detstvo (URSS) by Andrej Tarkovskij and Cronaca familiare by Valerio Zurlini

1961: L’année dernière à Marienbad (France) by Alain Resnais

1960: Le passage du Rhin (France) by André Cayatte

1959: Il generale Della Rovere by Roberto Rossellini and La grande guerra by Mario Monicelli

(joint winners)

1958: Muhô-Matsu no Isshô (Japan) by Hiroshi Inagaki

1957: Aparajito (India) by Satyajit Ray

1956: Golden Lion of San Marco not assigned

1955: Ordet (Denmark) by Carl Theodor Dreyer

1954: Romeo and Juliet (UK) by Renato Castellani

1953: Golden Lion of San Marco not assigned

1952: Jeux interdits (France) by René Clément

1951: Rashô-mon (Japan) by Akira Kurosawa

1950: Justice est faite (France) by André Cayatte (Golden Lion of San Marco)

1949: Manon (France) by Henry-Georges Clouzot (Golden Lion of San Marco, Gran Premio Internazionale di Venezia)

1948: Hamlet (UK) by Laurence Olivier (Gran Premio Internazionale di Venezia)

1947: Sirena (Czechoslovakia) by Karel Stekly (Gran Premio Internazionale di Venezia)

1946: The Southerner (Usa) by Jean Renoir (Best film for  the press commission)

1942: Bengasi by Augusto Genina (Coppa Mussolini for the best Italian film); Der Grosse König (Germany) di Veit Harlan

1941: La corona di ferro by Alessandro Blasetti (Coppa Mussolini for the best Italian film); Ohm Krüger (Germany) by Hans Steinhoff (Coppa Mussolini for the best foreign film)

1940: L’assedio dell’Alcazar by Augusto Genina (Coppa Mussolini for the best Italian film); Der Postmeister (Germany) by Gustav Ucicky (Coppa Mussolini for the best foreign film)

1939: Abuna Messias by Goffredo Alessandrini (Coppa Mussolini for the best film)

1938: Luciano Serra pilota by Goffredo Alessandrini and Olympia (Germany) by Leni Riefenstahl (Coppa Mussolini for the best film joint winners)

1937: Scipione l’africano by Carmine Gallone (Coppa Mussolini for the best Italian film); Un carnet de bal (France) by Julien Duvivier (Award for the best foreign film)

1936: Squadrone bianco by Augusto Genina (Coppa Mussolini for the best Italian film); Der Kaiser von Kalifornien(Germania) by Luis Trenker (Award for the best foreign film)

1935: Casta Diva by Carmine Gallone (Coppa Mussolini for the best Italian film); Anna Karenina (Usa) by Clarence Brown (Award for the best foreign film)

1934: Teresa Confalonieri by Guido Brignone (Coppa Mussolini for the best Italian film); Man of Aran (UK) by Robert Flaherty (Award for the best foreign film)


Source: Mostra Internazional D’Arte Cinematografica, La Biennale di Venezia, http://www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/history/volpi.html?back=true


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