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Cinema legend Bertolucci to head Venice Film Fest jury

Director of Last Tango in Paris oversees cinema jubilee

Cinema legend Bertolucci to head Venice Film Fest jury

(By Kate Carlisle) Rome, May 9 - Bernardo Bertolucci, the director whose 1972 'Last Tango In Paris' was banned in Italy for obscenity and is considered one of the most controversial films ever made, has been selected as president of the jury of the 2013 Venice Film Festival. "I happily accept (the nomination). Over the span of just a few days it gives me a chance to see the most interesting things happening in cinema from around the world," Bertolucci said. Though he has never screened a film in the festival, it will not be the first time Bertolucci presides over the Venice jury. The last time was in 1983, when Jean-Luc Godard, a man he has called his "mentor" and "guru", won the coveted Golden Lion for 'Prenom Carmen' (First Name: Carmen). Seventy-three-year-old Bertolucci was born in the northern city of Parma in 1940, the son of poet Attilio Bertolucci. While at Rome University, he began his film career as an assistant to the late Pier Paolo Pasolini on his 1961 film Accattone. He dropped out of university the following year and made his first feature film, The Grim Reaper, a commercial flop. Bertolucci's next film was Before the Revolution which did not earn money either, but won him recognition at the 1964 Cannes film Festival Unable to raise funds for a new feature, Bertolucci made a series of documentaries and shorts before returning to the big screen with his 1968 film Partner, a modern version of Edgar Allen Poe's William Wilson, and the next year The Spider's Stratagem, considered both a critical and commercial improvement. Bertolucci grabbed the international limelight and critical acclaim with his 1972 film The Conformist, which became his first US hit and for which he won an Academy Award for best screenplay. The Italian director then made his most controversial film, Last Tango in Paris, which won him not only international recognition and an Oscar nomination for directing but also an obscenity conviction for which he lost his political rights for five years. In postwar Italy's most sensational case of film censorship, a court even went so far as to order copies of the film and available negatives to be burnt, although some copies were kept in the national cinema archives. His conviction and the order to destroy the film were later overturned. He then embarked on his two-part epic 1900, in which he looked at 40 years of Italian history by tracing two families, those of a farm owner and his farmhand, in his native Parma. The 1980s saw Bertolucci make a number of smaller films, including the powerful La Luna, before he made his greatest success, The Last Emperor, that earned Bertolucci an Oscar for best director and one for best non-original screenplay. Set in China in the early 1900s, the Last Emperor also won Oscars for best picture as well as art design and set direction, cinematography, costumes, editing, original music score and sound. During the 1990s, Bertolucci travelled to Morocco to make The Sheltering Sky, back to Asia for Little Buddha, Tuscany for Stealing Beauty and Rome for Besieged. In 2003, Bertolucci returned to Paris to delve into the 1968 student revolt with Dreamers. "I'm very attached to France," he commented, "and I particularly adore French cinema. The films of Rene Clair and Jean Renoir shaped my approach to cinema". His latest film Me and You was screened out of competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and only received a lukewarm reception from critics. Bertolucci is "the ideal president for the important and sensitive role," Festival Director Alberto Barbera said on Thursday announcing the choice. "His long experience and inexhaustible curiosity make him the perfect choice," Barbera said. "For the 70th anniversary, we wanted an Italian jury president. Who better than Bertolucci?," Barbera said. The world's oldest cinema festival takes place from August 28 to September 7 this year.

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