Friday, July 29, 2011

ABSENCE OF SUBJECT - The Images of Michael Somoroff & August Sander

The Pianist by August Sander
(Venice, Italy) The extraordinary German photographer, August Sander, was renowned for capturing images of human beings during the early part of the 20th Century. Now, New York photographer and commerical director Michael Somoroff has erased Sander's people, leaving only the background. Together these images were the subject of the exhibition Absence of Subject curated by Diana Edkins which closed on July 15, 2011 at Galerie Brigette Schenk in Piazza San Marco. From the website:

The Soldier
August Sander
The exhibition includes forty silver prints, ten platinum-palladium prints and seven videos by Michael Somoroff as well as forty August Sander original photographs. Somoroff appropriated selected images as an homage to the legendary German photographer August Sander's collective portrait People of the 20th Century. In each of the images, Somoroff has erased the subject of Sander's photograph retaining only the background. 

It was not easy to be a photographer in Germany in the 20th Century, and Sander suffered enormously for his art. It is only due to Sander's cleverness, determination and strength that we are able to view his photographs today -- that, and the dedication of his grandson and cultural heir, the photographer Gerd Sander, who created gelatin silver prints from the originals. From Wikipedia:

"Sander's Face of our Time was published in 1929. It contains a selection of 60 portraits from his series People of the 20th Century. Under the Nazi regime, his work and personal life were greatly constrained. His son Erich, who was a member of the left wing Socialist Workers' Party (SAP), was arrested in 1934 and sentenced to 10 years in prison, where he died in 1944, shortly before the end of his sentence. Sander's book Face of our Time was seized in 1936 and the photographic plates destroyed. Around 1942, during World War II, he left Cologne and moved to a rural area, allowing him to save most of his negatives. His studio was destroyed in a 1944 bombing raid."

The Soldier
Michael Somoroff
Michael Somoroff also comes from a family of photographers. His father was the celebrated commercial photographer, Ben Somoroff. From Wikipedia:

"Somoroff was the first artist invited to exhibit at The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, and notably the only artist since Barnett Newmanto have an installation on the grounds. In 2006 Somoroff created a large-scale outdoor sculpture Illumination I for the Chapel. Somoroff’s work has been exhibited in major art fairs such as Arco, Art Cologne, Basel Art Fair, Art Miami, Armory Show, NYC., Fotofest Houston and Photokina among other venues. His nudes, portraits, and still life images are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Houston Museum of Fine Art, Texas; and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

To learn more about Michael Somoroff, you can visit the Facebook page.

Pastry Chef
August Sander
First I viewed the photos of August Sander, who had the unique ability to capture the souls of his subjects.  Then Michael Somoroff took those souls away.

Pastry Chef
Michael Somoroff
It was a bit shocking, I have to say, to see the photos without the people. I had the good fortune to view the exhibit with Don Guarnieri, the onsite producer, who actually gave me far warning that the images might be startling. Don is the co-producer of Josh Fox's "Gasland," a film that won the Sundance Award Special Jury Prize and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature; he also produced Somoroff's Illumination

From the curator, Diana Edkins:

Small Town Women
August Sander
"Michael Somoroff has erased the subject retaining only the background. Seemingly a limited subject matter, here Somoroff has made it limitless without boundaries. By incorporating an ingenious technical approach to both the still photographs and the narrations, Somoroff creates a narrative caught in space and time. In light of the extraordinary wealth of technology available to contemporary artists, Somoroff relishes in the notion that one can alter reality at the touch of a computer button." 

Small Town Women
Michael Somoroff
To put a whisper of life back, Somoroff then created videos out of seven of his photos. He added a soft breeze, which made The Pianist, the Sander image you see at the very top, especially haunting. You can view the videos here:

Here is an excerpt from a conversation between Gerd Sander, August Sander's grandson and the man responsible for the gelatin silver prints, and Michael Somoroff:

Blind Children at their Lessons
August Sander
SANDER: I've always believed that good work is good work and it doesn't lose its intrinsic worth. I understand the concern and the fear with the art world saying oh, well, you know, this is not en vogue right now because it is too esoteric, too religious, too emotional or too personal or whatever. People will say that because it will remind them of exactly that truth.

SOMOROFF: Yes, I know, it's frightening the responsibility we have to ourselves and other to be honest and face our shortcomings. On the other hand it's our choice to really be human, i.e., humane beings. It is our ability to be vulnerable with one another, to be authentic in any given moment, to share; it is our potential to create a world that looks compassionate...

The last Somoroff image is entirely black.

Ciao from Venice,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cat Bauer at easyJet Holidays - Guest Blog - Part 1

Dylan Paintings by Maria Zerres
Photo: Jens Willebrand
courtesy Das Maximum, Traunreuth, Gemany

(Venice, Italy) EasyJet, for those of you who live outside the zone, is defined by Wikipedia as:

EasyJet Airline Company Limited (styled as easyJet) is a British airline headquartered at London Luton Airport. It carries more passengers than any other United Kingdom-based airline, operating domestic and international scheduled services on 500 routes between 118 European, North African, and West Asian airports.

For those of you in the States, it is kind of like a hip Southwest Airlines. It usually flies into the primary airports, not out-of-the-way terminals in the boonies. When EasyJet Holidays asked me to be a guest blogger, I said sure. I figured it would be my small effort to combat the enormous cruise ships that unload millions of somnambulant masses that blindly follow a leader with a raised umbrella -- who never seems to lead them to any of my sponsors.

EasyJet is cool because you can hop on a plane and spend some quality time in Venice, so I wrote a blog about all the contemporary art inside ancient venues going on in conjunction with the Biennale Art Exhibition. Even if you are not a huge fan of contemporary art, right now you can meander through ancient buildings, some of which are difficult, if not impossible, for the general public to access. (Plus, I love the way EasyJet described me as an "internationally successful blogger":) Here's a snippet:

Photo: Jens Willebrand
courtesy Das Maximum,
Traunreuth, Gemany 
Venice is a city stuffed with precious art, created by giant old masters and displayed in monumental structures. In contrast, the Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition has breathed contemporary life into the classic settings with its renowned art festival for more than 100 years.

This year, in addition to the traditional national pavilions down at Giardini, new countries have popped up inside the Arsenale and other buildings scattered around town, many of which are privately owned. Coinciding with La Bienalle, a plethora of parallel exhibitions is also housed in private palaces and other cool ancient venues, offering a rare peak into the secret world of Venice. Here are just a handful that you can visit -- for free:

Ciao from Venice,

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

James Taylor LIVE in Piazza San Marco

(Venice, Italy) James Taylor played last night, July 19, 2011, in Piazza San Marco, in the middle of a raging storm. I thought the show would be cancelled, but I could feel the energy off in the distance as I worked inside the Querini Stampalia. I wasn't going to go, but then I thought, James Taylor is ten minutes away, and if he is playing in a storm, you can at least walk over there and see how he's doing.

I arrived just in time to catch the encore. Despite the rain, he was surrounded by adoring fans who seemed oblivious to the storm. He sang, "Sweet Baby James," and his voice sounded pure and clean, just as it had when I had seen him at his free concert at Sheep Meadow in Central Park back in July 1979, thirty-two years ago.

I found that photo on the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website, and I think it is misidentified. On the site, it describes the photo:

"Then-Congressman Ed Koch mingles with audience members at a 1977 James Taylor performance in Sheep Meadow, Central Park. Koch became Mayor of New York City in 1978."

Well, the concert was most definitely in 1979, not 1977. Back in 1979, Ed Koch was the Mayor of New York City, not a congressman, and you could run into him everywhere. He was very cool, and went to everything -- you could bump into him at Ray's Pizza down in the Village and eat a slice with the mayor. I remember that Mayor Koch was at the James Taylor concert to save Sheep Meadow because I was there along with 249,999 other people -- in fact, that could even be me in the big-striped short-sleeve shirt, looking on, far in the background, because I remember him being very close by. Mayor Koch would come and talk to everyone and find out what was going on with the people he was governing

Last night, in Piazza San Marco, James Taylor's energy overcame the storm. The man is sixty-three years old, has been to hell and back again, many times, and still sings like an angel. The crowd demanded another encore -- demanded "Mexico" in fact -- and James Taylor obliged. It always amazes me how Italian fans know all the words to the songs of American artists.

Photo at PartyEarth
James Taylor was grateful that his die-hard fans had stayed through the storm. He said that they had transformed the concert from something that looked like it would be a disaster. He said, "That's why I love you." His fans most definitely loved him, too, with a passion. He sang yet another encore, a lullaby, to tuck everyone into bed. He sang, "You Can Close Your Eyes," and then the crowd walked home through the rain.

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Well the sun is surely sinking down
But the moon is slowly rising
So this old world must still be spinning around
And I still love you

So close your eyes
You can close your eyes
It's all right
I don't know no love songs
And I can't sing the blues anymore
But I can sing this song
And you can sing this song when I'm gone

It won't be long before it's another day
We're gonna have a good time
No one's gonna take that time away
You can stay as long as you like

So close your eyes
You can close your eyes
It's all right
I don't know no love songs
And I can't sing the blues anymore
But I can sing this song
And you can sing this song when I'm gone

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Redentore 2011 - Feast of the Redeemer

Photo at Casa Rezzonico
(Venice, Italy) The fireworks of the beloved Venetian festival of Redentore came off with a big bang, once again. Since it is a hot summer night, I think it's time for a Venetian Cat - Venice Blog rerun. Here's my Redentore blog from last year, 2010, which was basically the same as Redentore this year, 2011 -- only the venue was different. Auguri!

Festa del Redentore - Feast of the Redeemer

(Venice, Italy) This past weekend, July 17th and 18th, we celebrated Venice's greatest festival, the Feast of the Redeemer (that image you see was taken from the Comune di Venezia's site). I have written about this holiday before, back on July 19, 2008:

The Church of Redentore was built in honor of Christ the Redeemer to save Venice from the plague, which wiped out ONE THIRD of the population, including Titian himself. Now, what, exactly, were the sins from which the Venetians thought they needed redemption? One was that they did a lot of trading with the Muslim countries. (I can think of several others:) The Venetians had tried everything, and as we know, when all else fails, the only thing left to do is to pray. In any event, it WORKED! The end of the plague on July 13,1577 is what we are celebrating tonight with what is usually the best fireworks in the entire world exploding over the lagoon. Venetians from all over the Veneto arrive in their boats to watch the show. The fondamenta on the Giudecca is lined with tables and Venetians eating traditional food. Terraces and balconies are filled with revelers. The Lido has their own party going on over there. It's a big Venetian party, and deserves its own blog, which perhaps I will give it in the future.

Click here to read the entire post:

Well, the future is now:) I have seen Redentore every year for the past eleven years from many different angles and venues -- in boats, on rooftops, terraces and balconies, at Cipriani's, on the island of San Giorgio -- this year I walked across the floating bridge that links Venice proper to the island of Giudecca where the Church of Redentore is located FIVE times!

More background about the origins of the festival:

The Plague of 1576 is the plague that inspired one of Venice's most beloved holidays and famous churches -- Redentore. From the Comune's website:

The plague In the three years between 1575 and 1577 the Serenissima was tormented by the plague: aided by the high density of the population, the disease spread through the city, causing terrible losses. Almost 50,000 died, which was more than a third of the city's inhabitants.

That image you see of the man with a hat and a beak and a wand is a plague doctor. The beak was stuffed with medicinal herbs, etc. to keep the doctor from catching the plague.

The vow On September 4, 1576, the Senate decided that the Doge should announce the vow to erect a church dedicated to the Redentore (Redeemer), in return for help in ending the plague.

The end of the plague On July 13, 1577, the plague was declared definitively over and it was decided that the city's liberation from the terrible disease should be celebrated on the third Sunday in July.

Ah, those were the days! When doctors ran around dressed as birds with long beaks, and gravediggers smashed bricks into the mouths of female vampires to stop them from munching on dead plague victims. Just think: we still celebrate the Redentore holiday today!

Click here to read the entire post:

So, the Venetian Senate vowed on September 4, 1576, in the midst of the plague, to build a church. On May 3, 1577, just eight months later, the cornerstone was laid. Miraculously, the plague was declared officially over two months after that, on July 13, 1577. The church was then consecrated only 15 years later in 1592, and put in the care of the Capuchin order of friars, who protect the Church of Redentore to this day.
From Wikipedia:

Il Redentore was built as a votive church in thanksgiving for deliverance from a major outbreak of the plague that decimated Venice between 1575 and 1576, in which some 46,000 people (25-30 per cent of the population) died.[1] The Senate of the Republic of Venice commissioned the architect Andrea Palladio to design the votive church.[2]. Though the Senate wished the Church to be square plan, Palladio designed a single nave church with three chapels on either side. Its prominent position on the Canale della Giudecca gave Palladio the opportunity to design a facade inspired by the Parthenon of Athens and enhanced by being placed on a wide plinth. 15 steps were required to reach the church's entrance, a direct reference to the Temple of Jerusalem and complicit with Palladio's own requirement that "the ascent (of the faithful) will be gradual, so that the climbing will bring more devotion".[3]
The corner-stone was laid by the Patriarch of Venice Giovanni Trevisano on May 3, 1577 and the building was consecrated in 1592.[4] At the urgent solicitations of Pope Gregory XIII, after consecration the church was placed in charge of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.[5] A small number of Friars reside in the monastery attached to the church.
Every year the doge and senators walked across a specially constructed pontoon bridge from the Zattere to Giudecca to attend Mass in the church. The Festa del Redentore remains a major festival in the Venetian calendar, celebrated on the third Sunday in July. A huge firework display on the previous evening is followed by a mass procession across the pontoon bridge.
Click here to read the entire article:
Have you calculated all that? It means that Venice has been re-enacting the original Redentore scene for 433 years. (Do any of you scholars out there know if the ceremony was suppressed by Napoleon?) This year was especially poignant for me -- more religious, less "festive" -- this year I spent most of my time hanging out in the church, or rather, churches. 

To watch the fireworks on Saturday night, I sat on the ledge at the top of those awesome stairs of the Church of Redentore, dangling my legs over the  edge, as I often have done on the ledge of my own balcony. I counted twelve people, including a nun, who, too, were sitting on the ledge. It gave a good view of the lagoon and the sky, and raised us above the crowd below. Nature, too, got in on the act -- a dark cloud flashed lightning bolts at the other end of the lagoon -- a great build-up to a spectacular thunderstorm that finally arrived very early Sunday morning.

Later on Sunday, the morning of Redentore, the air was fresh and clear. I had the great honor of having the Mass in the Church of Sant' Eufemia, (located closer to the Hilton on Giudecca) dedicated to me; the service was performed by a Capuchin friar. Sant' Eufemia is a sweet, ancient church whose Venetian-Byzantine foundation dates back to the ninth century; it was a beautiful ceremony that I appreciated very much. Later that evening it was standing-room-only back at the Church of Redentore, with our Patriarch, Angelo Scola, performing the ancient rite that has been celebrated by Patriarchs of Venice for centuries.
Ciao from Venice,

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tricolor Arrows - Frecce Tricolori in Sottomarina, Chioggia

(Venice, Italy) The unmistakable roar of fighter jets split the silence of Venice last Thursday morning as I was jogging toward the back of the lagoon. "Oh, no. Something's going on in Libya," I thought. "NATO is up to something." Nine gleaming jets appeared directly in the sky above me, in Venice's airspace, which was a shock. An American pilot once told me that even commercial planes were instructed to avoid the airspace over Venice (which allows us to have our little illusion that we do not live in the present, but about 500 centuries ago). The only time I can remember the rule being broken was when NATO bombed Yugoslavia back in 1999, and, more recently, in the spring and summer of 2009.

The nine aircraft circled several times overhead, impossibly close together, until suddenly, green, white and red smoke trails burst from the planes, erasing my fear. I laughed out loud. "They're Italian!" I later found out that I had just witnessed the Frecce Tricolori, or the Tricolored Arrows in action.

From Wikipedia:

The Frecce Tricolori (Italian, literally Tricolour Arrows), officially known as the 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico, is the aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Aeronautica Militare, based at Rivolto Air Force Base, in the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giuliaprovince of Udine. They were formed in 1961 as an Air Force team, replacing unofficial teams that had been sponsored by various commands by the end of the 1920s.[1]
The team flies the Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN, a two-seat fighter-trainer craft capable of 898 km/h at sea level, with nine aircraft and a solo (the highest number of aircraft of any aerobatic team in the world).[1]
The team's official name is:
313. Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico;
Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (PAN) Frecce Tricolori.

I discovered that the high-flying three-colored daredevils were actually putting on an air show on Sunday afternoon at Sottomarina in Chioggia. I was determined to go. I love airplanes, especially if they do stunts. When I was a little kid, maybe about seven or eight, my uncle let me fly his plane from the co-pilot's seat on the way down to North Carolina while my younger sisters sobbed and wailed in the backseat. One of my earliest fantasies was that I would be the one to find Amelia Earheart. Then, years ago, I went up in a bi-plane near San Francisco, and looped, rolled and hammerheaded across the sky. It was like being on an enormous roller-coaster ride with no tracks tying you to the ground. 
It was also poignant that the aerodynamic show would be in Chioggia. Chioggia has the second largest fishing fleet in Italy. The fishermen of Chioggia are the ones who told the world that NATO was dropping bombs into the Adriatic Sea during the Yugoslavian War and ruining all the fishing. NATO denied it, and said they were old bombs left over from WWII. The Chioggia fishermen fished up bombs and nearly blew themselves up. They went on television. They went on strike. Chioggia fishermen are very tough and should not be underestimated. Needless to say, NATO finally admitted they were dropping bombs in the Adriatic Sea. 
From the Washington Post article dated May 21, 1999 Italian Fishermen Net NATO Bombs by Sarah Delaney:
Photo at Travellious
ROME, May 20 – Italian fishermen plying the Adriatic Sea are afraid that in their daily catch of scampi, scallops and squid they might haul up small yellow canisters that could blow up in their faces.

Last week, the captain and two sailors on the Profeta, a fishing vessel from the port of Chioggia, were seriously injured when a canister pulled up in a pile of flapping fish exploded and sent shrapnel flying across the deck.

These gifts from the sea, courtesy of NATO, are the unused bombs that pilots returning to Italian bases from air raids over Yugoslavia sometimes have to dump before landing. Since the air campaign began on March 24, more than 100 of them have been picked out of the nets of fishing boats working in the uppermost part of the Adriatic, near Venice.

NATO has designated six areas in international waters between Italy and the coasts of Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece for the disposal of unexploded bombs. Some have been in place since 1995, when the alliance conducted bombing missions over Bosnia.

The problem was, however, that NATO did not inform the Italian government or authorities at the ports that are home to the fishermen who trawl the sea for a living.

Click HERE to read the entire Washington Post article. So, you see, fighter jets overhead have an entirely different significance to people who live in Venice than in other parts of the world where there are no military bases and no wars next door.

The airshow was amazing. I had a front row seat, or rather, front row blanket on the beach. Someone has done an excellent job of recording the Frecce Tricolori on YouTube, which captures the experience much better than my words. If you watch until the end, you'll hear Luciano Pavarotti belt out "Vincerò!" as the green, white and red colors of Italy flood the sky -- the Frecce Tricolori had honored Pavarotti at his funeral with a flypast, leaving a green-white-red plume of smoke in their wake.

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Friday, July 8, 2011

Clooney, Pacino & the Jury - 68th Venice International Film Festival

Vittorio Storaro Installation
61st Venice Film Festival
(Venice, Italy) The renowned Venice International Film Festival was the very first major film festival in the world, founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi in 1932. Here is an amusing article about Count Volpi and Benito Mussolini from Time Magazine dated July 16, 1928 entitled "Volpi Out." 

Two of Signor Benito Mussolini's ministers have constantly dared to call their souls and policies their own. One is Signor Luigi Federzoni, soft speaker for the Vatican, Colonial Minister. The other and greater is Count Giuseppe Volpi.

Volpi put the lira back on gold (TIME, Jan. 2). Volpi adroitly won huge concessions from the U. S. and Great Britain in funding the Italian debts to those powers (TIME, Nov. 23, 1925). As Finance Minister, Volpi has been for three years past the one Italian statesman with whom U. S. big business has found it possible to deal—man to man, without undue formality, with absolute confidence.

Last week, Count Volpi resigned as Finance Minister. He is known to have incurred the ire of Il Duce on several occasions—notably when he insisted that the lira be put back on gold at a lower valuation than that at first desired by Signor Mussolini. But from this it must not be rashly assumed that Count Volpi was "asked to resign." The irritable Duce has in other moods given his Finance Minister to understand that he must resist certain highly lucrative offers from the sphere of private business which have become especially tempting of late.

The fiscal collaboration of Benito Mussolini and Giuseppe Volpi is simply at fruitful end. Last week the Count was replaced as Finance Minister by Senator Antonio Mosconi, never before a cabinet minister, but a good Fascist "party man."

Apparently Count Volpi found other ways to keep himself busy, one of which was creating the world's first film festival. This year, "sexiest man alive" George Clooney will open the festival with his film, The Ides of March based on the play Farragot North by Beau Williman about "the lust for power and the costs one will endure to achieve it." George Clooney is beloved in Venice, and I'm sure his new "single" status will be a topic of discussion at the press conference. Clooney is a genius at press conferences, charming everyone with his wit, sophistication and style. 

Another American icon, Al Pacino, will be here, too, honored with the Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory award, given to "an artist who has left an original mark on contemporary cinema." Pacino is also premiering his latest film, which sounds riveting: the "unconventional feature documentary" Wilde Salome, based on Oscar Wilde's banned play, which eventually premiered in 1896 when Wilde was in prison. Salome is part of Pacino's repertoire; in the film he will once again play Herod opposite up-and-comer Jessica Chastain. 

Marco Bellocchio, the great Italian director, screenwriter and actor, will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Also a "director's cut" of his 1971 film, Nel Nome del Padre (In the Name of the Father) will screen in a version that is shorter than the original. 

The jury was announced today. In addition to Darren Aronofsky, the president of the jury, who has become like a member of La Biennale family (Black Swan, which won the Golden Lion here in Venice last year and was nominated for five Academy Awards, opened the festival last year), the multi-talented Mr. David Byrne will also be on the Lido! Here is the press release:

la Biennale di Venezia /
68th Venice International Film Festival /

Eija-Liisa AhtilaDavid Byrne, Todd Haynes, Mario Martone, Alba Rohrwacher and André Téchiné
to form the Venezia 68 International Jury chaired by Darren Aronofsky

The selection has been made for the members of the International Jury for the Competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival, with American director and screenwriter Darren Aronofsky as president.

The Jury will award the official prizes of the 68th Venice International Film Festival, which will take place on the Lido from 31 August through 10 September 2010, directed by Marco Mueller and organized by la Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta.

The personalities selected to compose the Jury are:

Heikki Pölönen, photo
Finnish visual artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila, whose works have been displayed in the most important exhibition centres in the world, from the Tate Modern in London (with a monographic exhibition 2002), to MoMA in New York (with her video installation The Wind in 2006), and who has participated twice in the Art Biennale, in 1999 with her video-projection Lohdutusseremonia (Nordic countries Pavilion) and in 2005 with her work The Hour of Prayer, projected onto four screens.

Composer, visual artist and director David Byrne. Known as the force behind Talking Heads and later as creator of the highly-regarded record-label Luaka Bop, David Byrne also works as a photographer, film director, author, and solo artist; he has published and exhibited visual art for more than a decade. Film work includes starring in the famous concert-film Stop Making Sense (1984) by Jonathan Demme, director (and actor/narrator) of the original True Stories (1987) and composer of soundtracks including the The Last Emperor (1987) by Bernardo Bertolucci, which won him the Oscar. Most recently he collaborated with Will Oldham for the soundtrack to This Must be the Place, directed by Paolo Sorrentino and starring Sean Penn.

American director Todd Haynes, a key figure in independent cinema, who has always been attracted by artistic and literary interests that run through his films. He was in Competition in Venice in 2007 with I’m Not Here (winner of the Special Jury Prize, and the Coppa Volpi for best actress to Cate Blanchett) and in 2002 with Far From Heaven (Coppa Volpi for best actress to Julianne Moore). He won the Golden Leopard in Locarno and the Jury Prize at Sundance for his debut film Poison (1991).

Italian film and theatre director Mario Martone, in Competition in Venice in 2010 with the highly acclaimed Noi Credevamo, winner of seven David di Donatello and the Nastro d’argento that year; winner of the Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1992 for his debut film Morte di un matematico napoletano (Death of a Neapolitan Mathematician). An important protagonist in the experimental theatre scene in Italy (one of the founders of the groups Falso Movimento and Teatri Uniti), he has been responsible for productions in the major theatres of the world and is the director of the Teatro Stabile in Turin.

Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher, one of the most sought-after and acclaimed actresses in recent years, in Venice in 2010 with La solitudine dei numeri primi (The Solitude of Prime Numbers) by Saverio Costanzo (for which she won the Nastro d’argento as best actress) and Sorelle mai by Marco Bellocchio, in 2009 with Io sono l’amore (I am Love by Luca Guadagnino), and in 2008 with Il papà di Giovanna(Giovanna’s Father) by Pupi Avati, for which she won the David di Donatello as best actress (the year before she had won the prize for best supporting actress forGiorni e nuvole (Days and Clouds) by Silvio Soldini).

French director and screenwriter André Téchiné, one of the great Masters from over the Alps, winner of the Palme d’Or in Cannes for Rendez-vous (1985). After working as a critic with the prestigious “Cahiers du cinéma”, he made his debut in Venice in 1969 with Pauline s’en va (Pauline is Leaving). He chose Venice as a suggestive location for his latest film Impardonnables (2011), presented at Cannes in the section Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, with André Dussollier in the role of Francis, an established author who comes to the Island of Sant’Erasmo to concentrate in peace on his next novel.

(NOTE FROM CAT: I was just over on Sant' Erasmo a couple of days ago, which has been completely "restored," without losing any of its charm. The same man I bought vegetables from 13 years ago was selling them still; the same bar serves up the same local food on the same outdoor picnic tables. Venetians were still there in their boats; children were chasing a crab with a net -- poor crab, running sideways, frantically waving his claws -- until the children caught it and put it back in the lagoon; sunbathers were still lying on the sand. The old Austrian fort has been been restored and turned into an art gallery; the skinny dirt road has been expanded into a long "street," easier to ride a bicycle through a tamed landscape that retains its wild allure.) 

On the closing night of the Venice International Film Festival (September 10, 2011), the Venezia 68 International Jury will award the official prizes to the feature-length films in competition: the Golden Lion for Best Film, the Silver Lion for Best Director, the Special Jury Prize, the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor, the Coppa Volpi for Best Actress, the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress, the Osella for Best Technical Contribution, and the Osella for Best Screenplay.

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog