August 26, 2011 / 10:36 AM / in 6 years

Factbox: Venice, the world's oldest film festival

(Reuters) - Twenty-two films will vie for the top Golden Lion award at the 68th edition of the world’s oldest film festival, which runs from Aug 31 to Sept 10 on the Lido seafront.

<p>The golden lion, symbol of the Venice Film Festival, is silhouetted against the sun in Venice August 26, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi</p>

Roman Polanski’s “Carnage” and Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John Le Carre’s Cold War thriller “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” will be among highlights at the 2011 festival.

Here are some details about the festival:

* BEGINNINGS:

-- The first “Esposizione d‘Arte Cinematografica” came into being in 1932. The first film to be shown was Rouben Mamoulian’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” screened in August of that year.

-- The second festival, held in August 1934, included the first competition. Nineteen countries took part with more than 300 accredited journalists. The “Coppa Mussolini” was introduced for best foreign film and best Italian film.

-- In 1936 an international jury was nominated for the first time and in 1937 the new Palazzo del Cinema was inaugurated. With the exception of the years 1940 to 1948, it has hosted the Festival ever since.

* WAR:

-- The Festival was held three times during World War Two, from 1940 to 1942, but not counted in the total number of festivals. Participation was limited to member countries or sympathizers in the Axis. A short festival was held in 1946.

* ROAD TO EXPANSION:

-- The 1947 Festival was held at the Ducal Palace. It saw the return of the Soviet Union and the new “popular democracies” including Czechoslovakia, which won first prize for “Sirena” by Karel Stekly.

-- During the 1950s, the Festival experienced a period of international expansion, with the inclusion of films from Japan and India.

-- Japanese cinema has become well known in the West largely thanks to the Golden Lion awarded to Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” in 1951, and successively through the Silver Lions won by “Ugetsu Monogatari” (1953) and “Sansho Dayu” (1954) by Kenji Mizoguchi.

* RECENT FESTIVALS:

-- Over the years Venice helped establish New German Cinema throughout the world. Film makers such as Wim Wenders and Margarethe Von Trotta (the first woman to win the Golden Lion) received the highest recognition at the Festival.

-- Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s sexually explicit spy thriller “Lust, Caution” was the surprise winner of the top award at the 2007 festival, just two years after he won with “Brokeback Mountain.”

* WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?

-- Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere,” an insider’s look at a Hollywood actor who becomes numb to life through drink and drugs, won the Golden Lion in 2010.

-- The director award went to Spain’s Alex de la Iglesia for “Balada Triste de Trompeta” (The Last Circus), a horror film doubling as a metaphor for fascist Spain.

-- Vincent Gallo won the best actor prize for his performance in “Essential Killing,” where he plays a suspected Taliban fighter on the run from U.S. forces and Ariane Labed won the best actress prize for the Greek drama “Attenberg.”

Sources: Reuters/ www.labiennale.org (Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

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