TheVenice Film Festival has announced that Paula Wagner will this year head theLion of the Future jury which awards a prize to the best first film. Germandirector Philip Groening will preside over the Orizzonticompetition.

The Lionof the Future jury will award $127,565 (Euros 100,000) to the best firstfeature in any section of the festival. The prize is sponsored by Italianproducer Aurelio De Laurentiis and also includes 20,000metres of Kodak film stock.

Wagner,who has been Tom Cruise's production partner since 1993 has produced a numberof films from emerging directors, such as Billy Ray's Shattered Glass and TheOthers, Alejandro Amenabar's first US film.Wagner was in Rome twoweeks ago for the world premiere of Mission:Impossible III, thefirst feature film to be directed by Aliasdirector JJ Abrams.

Groning's sleeper hit documentary Into Great Silence about life in the Grande Chartreuse monastery,premiered last year in Venice Horizons, the festival section dedicated to newtrends. This year, the German director will also hand out a separate prize tothe best documentary.

The 63rd Venice Film Festival will run August 30-September 9, and willbe headed for the third time by Marco Mueller.