Agnieszka Holland
Agnieszka Holland (courtesy Venice Film Festival)

The 81st Venice International Film Festival taking place August 28 – September 7, 2024 today unveiled the jury of nine international film personalities, who will award the Golden Lion for Best Film in the Venezia 81 Competition and the other official awards.

Chaired by French actress Isabelle Huppert, the International Jury of the Venezia 81 Competition will include American director and screenwriter James Gray; British director and screenwriter Andrew Haigh; Polish director, screenwriter and producer Agnieszka Holland; Brazilian director and screenwriter Kleber Mendonça Filho; Mauritanian director, screenwriter and producer Abderrahmane Sissako; Italian director and screenwriter Giuseppe Tornatore; German director and screenwriter Julia von Heinz; and Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi.

The Jury of Venezia 81 will award the following official prizes to the feature films in Competition, with no joint awards allowed: Golden Lion for Best Film, Silver Lion – Grand Jury Prize, Silver Lion for Best Director, Coppa Volpi for Best Actress, Coppa Volpi for Best Actor, Special Jury Prize, Award for Best Screenplay, and “Marcello Mastroianni” Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress.

The Golden Lion for Best Film and other official awards will be announced during the closing ceremony of the 81st Venice International Film Festival on Saturday, September 7 on the stage of the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema at the Venice Lido.

Venezia 81 International Jury

Isabelle Huppert – president, French actress. She developed an interest in acting as a teenager and entered the Versailles Conservatory. She won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978 for Violette by Claude Chabrol. She worked with Chabrol in seven other films and won the Coppa Volpi for best actress at the Venice Film Festival twice with Story of Women (1988) and La Cérémonie (1995), for which she also obtained her first César Award. In 2001 she won her second Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for The Piano Teacher by Michael Haneke. In 2005 Huppert was honoured by the Venice Film Festival with a Special Golden Lion for the Overall Work for Gabrielle by Patrice Chéreau. In 2017 she gained her first Academy Award nomination for Elle by Paul Verhoeven, for which she also won a Golden Globe and an Indipendent Spirit Award. In 2022 she was appointed as the recipient of the Honorary Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

James Gray, American director and screenwriter. He made his directorial debut in 1994 with Little Odessa, which received the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. In 2000, Gray wrote and directed The Yards, his second feature and his first with Joaquin Phoenix, who would become a frequent collaborator, going on to star in his next three films: We Own the Night (2007), Two Lovers (2008) and The Immigrant (2013), all of which screened in competition at Cannes. The Lost City of Z had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in 2016. Gray’s following film, Ad Astra, starring Brad Pitt, screened in competition at Venice in 2019 and received one nomination at the Academy Awards. Gray’s last movie, Armageddon Time, was in competition at Cannes in 2022.

Andrew Haigh, British writer and director. His critically acclaimed All of Us Strangers (Searchlight Pictures) received various nominations at BAFTA, Gotham Awards and Independent Spirit Awards. The LA Film Critics Association awarded Haigh with Best Screenplay for the film. Haigh’s previous feature films include A24’s Lean on Pete, in competition at the Venice Film Festival in 2017, IFC’s Sundance Selects’ 45 Years (2015), which received a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards for Charlotte Rampling, and breakout hit, Weekend (2011). Haigh served as an executive producer as well as the lead writer-director on the HBO show Looking (2014-2016). He also wrote and directed all five episodes of the 2012 limited series The North Water for BBC & AMC.

Agnieszka Holland, Polish director, screenwriter and producer. With Provincial Actors (1978) she won the International Critics Prize at Cannes. She received an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film for Angry Harvest in 1985. She then directed To Kill a Priest (1988) and Europa Europa (1990), for which she won a Golden Globe and earned her second Oscar nomination for best screenplay. In 2011 she directed In Darkness, for which she received her third Oscar nomination. Her film Spoor won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale in 2016. Holland directed episodes of the lauded series The Wire, The Killing, Cold Case and Treme. Most recently she directed the mini-series Burning Bush (2013). She also directed the pilots of both The First and 1983 TV series. Her latest film The Green Border won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2023.

Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazilian screenwriter, director and film programmer. In the 1990s he began making his own short films. For Crítico, his debut feature documentary, he gave 70 directors and critics a chance to speak their minds. Neighbouring Sounds premiered in Rotterdam in 2012 and Brazil selected it as its entry for an Oscar. In 2016, Aquarius, starring Sonia Braga, was in competition at Cannes. The film was nominated for a César and an Independent Spirit Award. In 2019, Bacurau, co-directed and co-written with Juliano Dornelles, won the Jury Prize at Cannes. Pictures of Ghosts, his most recent work, premiered in Cannes in 2023. He is currently shooting a new film, The Secret Agent.

Abderrahmane Sissako, director, screenwriter and producer from Mauritania. In 1995, he made Le chameau et les bâtons flottants. In 1997 he directed Sabriya, an episode from the television series Africa Dreaming. Life on Earth (1998) marked the director’s return to his native country. In 2002 he directed in Mauritania the film Waiting for Happiness, presented at Cannes and winner of the FIPRESCI Prize. He returned to Cannes in 2006 with Bamako and again in 2014, in competition, with Timbuktu. The first Mauritanian film to be nominated for an Oscar, Timbuktu won seven César awards.

Giuseppe Tornatore, Italian director and screenwriter. In 1985 he made his debut as a filmmaker with Il Camorrista for which he also wrote the screenplay together with Massimo De Rita. In 1989 he captured the attention of international cinema with Cinema Paradiso, a film for which he wrote the subject and script and which won him an Oscar as Best Foreign-Language Film. All the films he made after, from A Pure Formality to Malena, from The Star Maker to The Unknown Woman, from Everybody’s Fine to The Legend of 1900, from Baaria to The Best Offer, to Ennio, the documentary dedicated to Ennio Morricone, have been distributed around the world, winning acknowledgments and acclaim.

Julia von Heinz, German director and screenwriter. In 2007, she won the German Film Award for Best Children’s and Youth Film with her debut Nothing Else Matters. Her film And Tomorrow the Entire World was in competition at Venice in 2020, represented Germany for the Oscars and was nominated as Best Film at the 2021 German Film Awards. As part of the omnibus film Isolation, her short doc Two Fathers premiered at the 2021 Giornate degli Autori. Her controversial TV series Eldorado Kadewe won numerous awards and was acquired by the BBC. Her latest film Treasure premiered at Berlinale and Tribeca in 2024. It just won Julia von Heinz the German Cinema for Peace Award. She teaches directing at the University of Television and Film in Munich.

Zhang Ziyi, Chinese actress. She made her début in Zhang Yimou’s The Road Home (1999). Her performance in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) brought her further acclaim. She starred in Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) by Rob Marshall, for which she earned a nomination for BAFTA and Golden Globes. Her role in The Grandmaster (2013) by Wong Kar-wai won her 12 awards for Best Actress in China. She has starred in features including Zhang Yimou’s Hero (2002) and House of Flying Daggers (2004); Wong Kar-wai’s 2046 (2004); and Seijun Suzuki’s The Princess Raccoon (2005). Her directorial debut, Poem (2021), was released in China to critical acclaim. Her latest film is Peter Chan’s She’s Got No Name which will be released in the fall of 2024.

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