Roberto Benigni to get lifetime achievement award at Venice Film Festival

He wrote, directed and starred in Life Is Beautiful, which won the 1999 Oscars for best foreign language film, best actor and best musical score.

Roberto Benigni poses for photographers as he arrives on the red carpet at the Rome Film Festival (Gregorio Borgia/AP)
Roberto Benigni poses for photographers as he arrives on the red carpet at the Rome Film Festival (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

The Venice Film Festival said it will give its lifetime achievement award this year to Oscar-winning director and actor Roberto Benigni.

The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement is to be awarded at the 78th edition of the world’s oldest film festival, scheduled for September 1-11 on the Lido.

Benigni wrote, directed and starred in La Vita E Bella, (Life Is Beautiful), which won the Oscar for best foreign language film, best actor and best musical score in 1999.

Roberto Benigni (Gregorio Borgia/AP)
Roberto Benigni (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

In announcing the decision, Venice director Alberto Barbera called Benigni “one of the most extraordinary comedy actors in an admittedly rich gallery of Italian performers”, and noted his more recent solo performances reading Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Benigni, perhaps best remembered for climbing on top of the audience chair when he won the Oscar, was more restrained on Thursday.

“My heart is full of joy and gratitude,” he said in a statement.

Venice was one of the few international film festivals to be held fully in-person last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, using reserved seating arrangements and extra screenings to ensure socially distanced viewing.

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