Autumn Tributes

Ridley Scott, Geena Davis, and Susan Sarandon on the set of Thelma & Louise (1991)

In 2006, the Venice Film Festival teamed up with luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre to launch the Glory to the Filmmaker Award, an honor “dedicated to a personality who has made a particularly original contribution to the contemporary film industry.” This is not, by the way, the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement, which will be going to Jamie Lee Curtis this year. The first recipient of the Glory to the Filmmaker Award was Takeshi Kitano, and over the years, it’s gone to such directors as Abbas Kiarostami, Agnès Varda, Brian De Palma, Zhang Yimou, Abel Ferrara—and Spike Lee, who has been having quite a year. After serving as president of the jury in Cannes last month, he will be honored at the forty-sixth Chaplin Award Gala in New York on September 9.

This morning, Venice announced that this year’s Glory to the Filmmaker Award—now sponsored for the first time by Cartier—will be presented to Ridley Scott on September 10, just before his new film, The Last Duel, premieres out of competition. At eighty-three, Scott has two films coming out this year. The Last Duel, starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck, is a tale of betrayal and revenge set in fourteenth-century France. In House of Gucci, Lady Gaga plays Patrizia Reggiani, who was convicted in 1998 of hiring a hitman to take out her ex-husband, Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver again), the former head of the Florentine fashion house.

House of Gucci will be released on Thanksgiving weekend, and Scott has begun preparing Kitbag, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon. Scott’s Gladiator (2000) was nominated for twelve Oscars and won five, and his biggest box office hit, The Martian (2015), brought in well over half a billion dollars. His earliest films, though, may have left the deepest cultural imprint.

His second feature, Alien (1979), a haunted house movie set in space, launched a franchise and gave us one of our precious few female action heroes in Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. Blade Runner, a noir with spectacular production design inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), was ignored when it was released in 1982, but it has long since been recognized as an influential sci-fi classic. Thelma & Louise (1991), starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, “created a new hybrid genre that broke through the wall separating romantic comedies from the grown-up world of road movies and buddy pics and found a way to validate women’s experiences without compromise,” wrote B. Ruby Rich in the Advocate in 2003.

San Sebastián announced today that its highest honor, the Donostia Award, will be presented to Johnny Depp on September 22. Known for his collaborations with Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd), Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man), and Terry Gilliam (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Depp became a global star playing Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Tracy Jacobs, Depp’s agent until 2016, freely admitted to Time’s Josh Tyrangiel in 2004 that when Disney approached them with the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), he got it and she didn’t. “He was pitched the movie without a script,” she recalled. “They basically said, ‘We’re going to make a movie out of this theme-park ride. Want to do it?’ And he said, ‘Great! I’m in. I believe in the idea.’ I just thought, What idea, you lunatic?”

In 2016, the Donostia Award went to Ethan Hawke, who will be honored later this month in Karlovy Vary with the festival’s President’s Award. Hawke first broke through as an actor in Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society (1989), then grounded his newly won fame in the mid-1990s with performances in Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites, Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, and Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca. He’s spent the past twenty years writing novels, directing plays and films, and giving memorable performances in Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day (2001), Sidney Lumet’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007), and Linklater’s Boyhood (2014). In Karlovy Vary, Hawke will introduce a screening of Paul Schrader’s First Reformed (2017), a personal best for both director and star that has been read as an environmentally conscious update to Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest (1951).

Toronto, in the meantime, has announced three tributes—so far. The festival will host the world premiere of Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and the Tribute Actor Award will go to Jessica Chastain, who plays the controversial televangelist. Denis Villeneuve, whose Dune will premiere in Venice before it arrives in Toronto, will receive the TIFF Ebert Director Award, and the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media will go to documentary filmmaker, writer, singer, and activist Alanis Obomsawin.

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