“It was time to break with a long list of male presidents and invite a brilliant talented and inspiring woman to chair our International competition jury,” Alberto Barbera, director of the annual festival, said in a statement of the American Beauty actress’ involvement.
“She will carry out [her duties] by virtue of her stature, her intellect and the talents she has manifested over the course of her career, in Hollywood, Europe and on the stage. Hers is a career marked by always interesting, often daring choices. A sophisticated and instinctive actress, able to portray complex shadings of character, Annette Bening brings to her roles an understating, a warmth and a natural elegance that makes watching her films a wonderful and ever enriching experience. I welcome her to Venice.”
Bening added: “I’m honored to be asked to serve as the president of the jury for this year’s Venice Film Festival. I look forward to seeing the movies and working with my fellow jury members to celebrate the best of this year’s cinema from all over the world.”
Including Bening, only six women have chaired the Venice jury. French actress Catherine Deneuve was the last woman to occupy the role when she commanded the jury in 2006. For the 10 editions that followed, the position was held by Zhang Yimou, Alexandre Desplat, Ang Lee, Wim Wenders, Quentin Tarantino, Darren Aronofsky, Michael Mann, Bernardo Bertolucci, Alfonso Cuarón, and Sam Mendes. Previous female presidents include Gong Li, Jane Campion, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, and Irene Papas.
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One of a handful of influential fall festivals that often influence the Oscar race, Venice typically hosts high profile premieres of Academy Award-bound titles; The 73rd iteration saw screenings of films like La La Land, Arrival, Jackie, and Nocturnal Animals—all of which would go on to either win or be nominated for Oscars.
Venice’s jury assigns some of the industry’s top awards to films that screen as part of the Venice competition. Last year, the festival’s highest honor—the Golden Lion—went to Lav Diaz’s The Woman Who Left, while eventual Oscar winner Emma Stone won Venice’s Volpi Cup for Best Actress for her performance in La La Land.
The 74th Venice International Film Festival runs from Aug. 30 toSept. 9, with its full competition slate to be announced on July 27.
This Story Originally Appeared On Entertainment Weekly