US filmmaker Friedkin to receive Venice Career gong

Oscar winner honored for The Exorcist, French Connection

US filmmaker Friedkin to receive Venice Career gong

Venice, May 2 - William Friedkin, the Academy Award-winning director of legendary films including The French Connection, will be awarded the Golden Lion lifetime achievement prize at the Venice Film Festival. The award was proposed by the director of the festival Alberto Barbera. In his bid to grant the Golden Lion to Friedkin, which was approved on Thursday, Barbera said that Friedkin "has contributed to the deep innovation of American cinema in a significant way which has not always been recognized for its revolutionary impact". After making documentaries, Friedkin played a major role in innovating two popular genres - police and horror films - making modern blockbusters including The French Connection (1971), a gritty crime drama which won him five Academy Awards including best director and best film, and The Exorcist which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards. The 1973 blockbuster was an adaptation of William Peter Blatty's best-selling novel about demonic possession. Friedkin also directed The Boys in the Band (1970), a pioneering film about gay culture which was adapted from a Mart Crowley play, Sorcerer (1977), a remake of Clousot's Wages of Fear, and Cruising (1980), starring Al Pacino as an undercover policeman chasing a killer in the gay bars of Manhattan's West Village. Other popular movies include To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) and Jade (1995) "which have come to be subsequently viewed as true masterpieces," Barbera said. Friedkin, he also noted, "showed he was ready to take risks to stand by his ideals which removed him from Hollywood's mainstream cinema and led him to seek in independent movies the freedom necessary to pursue a language made of constant surprises, incredible visual impact, which was visionary, while hungry for reality even when it lost itself in the abstract and perfectionist action scenes which characterized his work. "William Friedkin still represents today an example of exacting cinema, which is intellectually honest, emotionally intense, adventurous and erratic - a powerful and generous antidote against the growing homogeneity of contemporary movies". A recent success included Killer Joe, which was nominated for a Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. After learning about the award, Friedkin said Venice represented a "spiritual home" for him, saying the lifetime achievement was "unexpected", an honour he accepted with "gratitude and love". Friedkin will be given the award at the 70th edition of the festival, August 28 to September 7, during which he will be presenting the restored version of Sorcerer by Warner Bros. His long-awaited memoir The Friedkin Connection (Harper Collins) has just been published in the United States. The Italian version, published by Bompiani, will debut in Venice.

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