Spike Lee to receive career award at Venice Film Festival

Posted by · 7:17 am · August 3rd, 2012

You have to like any award that links Abbas Kiarostami to Sylvester Stallone, Agnes Varda to Al Pacino and, now, Spike Lee — even if it’s one of those career achievement prizes determined more by who’s going to be in town than anything else. Lee, it was announced today, will be the latest recipient of the splendidly named Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award (named for a film by its inaugural recipient, Takeshi Kitano) at the Venice Film Festival later this month.

It’s slightly bittersweet seeing Lee ascend to the realm of golden-watch awards. It doesn’t seem that long ago that he was the abrasive upstart instead, but then, it has been all too long since he last made a feature film that shook anything up. (His latest, “Red Hook Summer,” received mixed reviews at Sundance in January and opens in limited release next week.) He’s arguably made more of an impression in the later career as a documentarian, and the Venice award presentation will immediately precede the world premiere of his Michael Jackson documentary, “Bad 25,” at the festival.

Lee has a happy history with Venice, having served once as a Competition juror and having previously taken eight films to the Lido — two of them, “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990) and “Clockers” (1995), in Competition. He left empty-handed on both occasions, though in 2006, his mammoth post-Katrina doc “When the Levees Broke” premiered in Venice and took the Orrizzonti documentary award. 

Edited press release as follows:

The Biennale di Venezia and Jaeger-LeCoultre announce that the great American director, screenwriter, actor and producer Spike Lee has been awarded the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker 2012 award of the Venice International Film Festival, dedicated a personality who has brought great innovation to contemporary cinema.

The Director of the Venice Film Festival, Alberto Barbera, in regards to this acknowledgment to Spike Lee, stated: “Spike Lee is a bold creative spirit, the author of daring and corrosive films, often unpredictable and provocative in the best sense of the term. Films that challenge us to rethink our prejudices and our preconceptions.”

The prize will be conferred to Spike Lee at the awards ceremony which will take place on Friday, August 31st during the 69th Venice Film Festival (29 August – 8 September 2012), directed by Alberto Barbera and organized by the Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.

Following the awards ceremony, the 69th Venice Film Festival will present the world premiere screening of the new documentary by Spike Lee, Bad 25, filmed on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson”s historic album, Bad. Spike Lee made two videos for Michael Jackson, They Don”t Care About Us (1997) and This Is It (2009).

Spike Lee has participated in eight previous editions of the Venice International Film Festival. In Competition twice, in 1990 with Mo”Better Blues and in 1995 with Clockers, and Out of Competition twice, in 2004 with She Hate Me and in 2005 with the episode Jesus Children of America from the film The Invisible Children. In 1997 with the documentary 4 Little Girls in the ‘Officina veneziana” section; in 1998 with He Got Game in the ‘Notti e stelle” section; in 2001 with the documentary A Huey P. Newton Story in the ‘Nuovi territori” section; in 2006 with the documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, which won the Orizzonti Doc award. In 2004 he was a member of the International Jury for the Competition. 

For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter.

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