The 1990’s

Al dilà delle nuvole (1995) - Antonioni - WendersThe Golden Lion is awarded in 1990 to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard which provokes new controversy. The jury, lead by Gore Vidal, preferred it to the emerging talent and vision of Jane Campion, provoking bitterness among the public, a great number of them colleagues in the realm of film art, bringing back to mind the disputes of the ’50s, when the jury ignored the two films of Luchino Visconti.

The following year the film that surprises everyone is Raise the Red Lantern by Chinese director Yimou Zhang, but once again the film greatly admired by the public and the critics does not get the Golden Lion; instead the award goes to Urga by Nikita Michalkov.

The latest editions under the direction of Maurizio Biraghi are characterized by the wide variety of selected films, thanks to the massive influx of young American directors: most memorable are the appearances of Spike Lee and Gus Van Sant. In addition to the young people, as always, the festival draws established and recognized film legends, such as Martin Scorsese, present in 1990 with Goodfellas and Jean-Luc Godard, present the following year with Allemagne 90 neuf zéro (Germany Year 90 Nine Zero).

Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo becomes the curator of the festival in 1992, and eventually becomes the director in 1996; quickly imprinting his character on the reorganization of the festival, which is clearly the responsibility of the director. Three orders of business: first, to make the lagoon city the capital of film directors; second: bring back "in person" the great directors and stars to Lido of Venice; third and finally, try to revitalize the area around the Cinema Palace thanks to the presence of the young.

Thanks to a long and remarkable series of initiatives and events, the festival seems to regain new vigor. During his mandate, Gillo Pontecorvo seems to succeed in carrying out his "mission". Venice hosts a court of directors (1993), numerous conventions and sees the dawn of UMAC (Unione Mondiale degli Autori Cinematografici – International Federation of Film Producers), created from the merger of AAIC (Associazione Autori Cinematografici Italiani – Association of Italian Film Producers) and ANAC (Associazione Nazionale Esercenti Cinema – National Association of Theater Owners).

The "Night" session hosts spectacular films of great interest, and Lido in turn hosts Hollywood superstars, such as Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. These are the names of film actors present at the review, which are equally as prestigious as the Golden Lion for Career Achievement winners: Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Francis Ford Coppola, who in 1992 all received the prize along with "Italian idol" Paolo Villaggio, the first comedian to receive such acknowledgment.

Lido gains new life, hosting events and rock concerts in the large square in front of the Casino, and thanks to the latest new initiative, "CinemAvvenire", the festival is visited by European school and university students, who are invited to present written and filmed works.

Numerous young talents and films are launched during this period : young Italians Mario Martone, Aurelio Grimaldi, Carlo Carlei and Paolo Virzì, and also New Zealander Peter Jackson (not yet known for his work as director of the film trilogy of Lord of the Rings), Sally Potter, Neil Jordan, Julian Schnabel, director of Basquiat, film biography of the life of American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Returning to Lido in the following years are film legends like Robert Altman (with Short Cuts, Golden Lion 1993), Abel Ferrara, Rolf De Heer, Michael Radford (his The Postman, with Massimo Troisi), Milcho Manchevski (Before the Rain, Golden Lion 1994), Lee Tamahori, Kathryn Bigelow, Gregg Araki and once again Jane Campion.

Eastern film stockpiles awards and its power is asserted on the world-wide market. Qiu Ju da guan si (The Story of Qiu Ju) by Chinese director Zhang Yimou is the Golden Lion 1992, while Aiqing wansui (Vive L’Amour) by Tsai Ming Liang receives the award in 1994 (ex aequo with Altman) and Xich lo (Cyclo) by Anh Hung Tran in 1995.

With regards to overseas film, young hopefuls stand out, like Roger Avary (with Killing Zoe, 1994, produced by Quentin Tarantino), James Gray, Henry Selick (with animated full-length film Nightmare Before Christmas, written and produced by Tim Burton, 1995), Doug Liman, brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski (not yet known for The Matrix and its sequels), James Mangold, Guillermo Del Toro and Bryan Singer.

Among the countless that make an appearance during this period, is the "Window on Images" session, a sort of workshop on short, medium and full-length works that symbolize experimentation and the avant-garde.

In 1996 within the scope of this plan, the public is introduced to Ghost in the Shell by Mamoru Oshii, a truly revolutionary masterpiece of Japanese animation, destined to become a cult.

In 1995, the festival celebrates the return from behind the camera of Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni with Al di là delle nuvole (Beyond the Clouds) (co-directed with German Wim Wenders).

Ending the age of Gillo Pontecorvo, the festival passes into the hands of Felice Laudadio, and the first administrated review by the new festival director unveils the international film of Takeshi Kitano, the Japanese director who wins the Golden Lion 1997 with Hana-bi (Fireworks).

In 1998 Così ridevano (The Way We Laughed) by Gianni Amelio is the ninth Golden Lion awarded to an Italian film. This win calls attention to other great Italian directors: Roberta Torre, Giuseppe Gaudino and Alessandro d’Alatri.

The festival, in the meantime, initiates a political move to strengthen and expand the infrastructure: the creation of a tension structure, the PalaLido (beginning in 1999 PalaBNL), to host the ever-growing numbers of people attending the screenings and increase the number of available screens.