Venice, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to Liliana Cavani. It is the first time for a woman in 80 years of the Venice Film Festival


By John

It took the birthday, the first 80 years of the Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the worldto assign the first Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement for a female director. Liliana Cavani, 90 years of lucid intelligence, collects the award from “her” Charlotte Rampling, thanks the Biennale, the professionals who accompanied her grateful but cold career. The audience in the large hall of the Palazzo del Cinema, with the crowd of special occasions for the opening ceremony with «Comandante» by Edoardo De Angelis – there were among others Luca Guadagnino who should have opened with «Challengers» with Zendaya – was standing and clapping.

She seems to say hello but then with a finally a little emotional voice, she thinks better of it and continues: «I would like to say something else. I’m the first female person to receive this award and it’s not entirely fair – he says, sparking more applause – there are women screenwriters and directors who are working, who work just as well as men, if we look carefully, if we give them the chance to be seen, I think the festival should also consider women. The exhibition is already many years old, balance is certainly needed in this sense, I hope that mine is a beginning and that it makes sense.”

Rampling, 77 years old, thin, with a black sculptural dress, short hair and an always restless look, recalled in her laudatio her bond with Cavani, a master in telling «the dark corners of the soul, on the beautiful and the unresolved, in focusing the camera on the beast with many names, the director who in our Night Porter gave no answers but showed in the most radical sense what is monstrous.”

A clip with exciting year-by-year snapshots of the exhibition reminded us of what there was to celebrate, the 80 editions of Venice in 90 years of history, interrupted by the war but not by Covid as the godmother Caterina Murino recalled, Bond girl actress in Casino Royale. In the hall the authorities starting with the deputy premier Matteo Salvini (red carpet with his girlfriend Francesca Verdini), the minister of culture Gennaro Sangiuliano, the Venetian president Luca Zaia, the mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro and many others. And then the complete juries with Damien Chazelle (La La Land) for the one that will award the Golden Lion. She goes on stage, she quotes her beloved Federico Fellini and in Italian she says «W il cinema». The warm and very special voice of Malika Ayane gave the audience a moment of true magic, a tribute to one of the most iconic songs of Italian music, “The sky in a room” by Gino Paoli.

Liliana Cavani: more history at school is the antidote to fascism

A large cake at the Ministry of Culture in January, a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Venice: for Liliana Cavani, 90 years old, it is time for celebrations. «Maybe they noticed that I existed, in certain sectors it’s evidently as if women didn’t exist. A warning sign? Well let’s hope”, the director from Carpi who won the competition at Rai tells Ansa, but instead of a career as a director she asked to be able to make documentaries, works still today in the historical memory and heritage of public television.

From the making of the documentaries of the early 1960s, History of the Third Reich and The Woman of the Resistance, Cavani drew inspiration and material for “The Night Porter”, among his most famous films, starring Charlotte Rampling who last night awarded the Golden Lion. «All that film material about the war, months and months in the editing room, left its mark on me, it was something unforgettable. And when I hear talk of a return to fascism I think that the mother of imbeciles never dies, I’m always amazed, I think it’s due to ignorance of the facts, history must be studied more and better in school, wanting to understand how it happened, there are still they are people who deny, the famous denialism, it is something not to be believed, it is easier to believe in a donkey that flies, I would take him and tie him to a chair with his eyes open, showing him all the authentic videos. Schools have not adapted to the ferocity of the times, if we don’t look at things as they happened we struggle to believe in progress, and in fact there are still wars and the arsenals are full of atomic bombs despite the disasters in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Shy, even rough, Cavani hardly lets her emotions show and when asked about the Lion she almost retreats: «The reward is already in doing this job, I have always liked it». He has been going to the cinema since he was 4 years old thanks to a passionate mother, he talks about Bergman’s films seen in Carpi, about «The Gold of Naples by Vittorio De Sica that if they asked me to save just one film I would save that eternal masterpiece». He also quoted Dante (“I trust him, he spoke well of Francis, a man of peace, peace which is the only meaning of life”) and took his latest film “The Order of Time” out of competition from the essay of the physicist Carlo Rovelli.
A love that continues to demonstrate by bringing “L’ordine del tempo” to Venice out of competition (an Indian, Vision, Gapbuster production with Rai Cinema, in theaters with Vision Distribution from 31 August), written with Paolo Costella, which makes a choral story a philosophical essay of the same name by the physicist Carlo Rovelli on which it is freely inspired.
«I am the first female person to receive this award. I find that not entirely fair. There are women, screenwriters, directors who work as well as men and we must give them the chance to be seen. The festival should also consider that women can make good films. I am the first woman to receive the Lion for Lifetime Achievement. We need balance in this sense and I hope that this beginning will be followed up.” She said this while accepting the Golden Lion for her lifetime achievement from Roberto Cicutto, president of the Biennale cinema, and from Charlotte Rampling. “The announcement of the award took me by surprise, I thought I was a seamstress who only had a group of loyal customers,” said the director.