Exorcist director to receive honorary Golden Lion.

US director William Friedkin is to receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 70th Venice International Film Festival (Aug 28-Sep 7).

“Venice, especially during the Film Festival, is a spiritual home to me,” said Friedkin. “The Golden Lion is something I never expected but am proud to accept with gratitude and love.”

The decision was made by the board of directors of the Biennale chaired by Paolo Baratta, upon recommendation of the director of the Venice Film Fesitval, Alberto Barbera.

Barbera said Friedkin “has contributed in a prominent way – the revolutionary impact of which has not always been recognized – to the profound renewal of American cinema regarded as ‘the New Hollywood’.

“Friedkin exploded the rules of documentary filmmaking in several works for television that were seminal for their dry, harsh and unpredictable point of view, and later revolutionized the popular genres of the crime film and the horror film, basically inventing the modern blockbuster with The French Connection (1971), which won five Oscars, including Best Film and Best Director, and The Exorcist (1973). 

“He was the director of films far ahead of their time, such as Sorcerer (1977), Cruising (1980), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) and Jade (1995), presented at the Venice Film Festival in the Notti veneziane section, some of which were only later reassessed as authentic masterpieces”.  

Friedkin screened his most recent film, Killer Joe, in the competition section of the 2011 Venice Film Festival.


He will receive the award during the 70th Venice International Film Festival, where he will present the Warner Bros. restored version of Sorcerer (1977).

“I consider Sorcerer my most personal film and the most difficult to achieve,” said Friedkin.

“To realize that it’s going to have a new life in cinema is something for which I’m deeply grateful. To have its world premiere at the Venice Festival is something I look forward to with great joy. It is truly a Lazarus moment.”

The restoration began with a 4k film resolution scan of the original 35mm camera negative and is being completed under the direction of Friedkin along with colorist Bryan McMahan, who has worked with the director since 1994 and Ned Price of Warner Bros. who oversees restoration projects for the studio. 

Autobiography The Friedkin Connection has just been published by HarperCollins in the US and is being translated into Italian by Bompiani, which will present a preview of the book in Venice.