Art and Experience: British filmmaker Stephen Frears is to be awarded the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker award at this year’s 74th Venice Film Festival. The award celebrates a filmmaker who is considered to have made an original contribution to innovation in contemporary cinema.
“Stephen Frears seems to challenge the very idea of a monolithic definition of his cinema,” Alberto Barbera, director of the festival, said in a statement. “Along with Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, he is one of the most vibrant and representative exponents of contemporary British cinema.”
Frears, who received Oscar nominations for “The Grifters” and “The Queen,” returns to Venice this year for a fifth time with his new film “Victoria & Abdul,” which reunites him with “Philomena” star Judi Dench. Frears has competed for the Golden Lion at four previous Venice festivals with “Liam” (2000), “Dirty Pretty Things” (2002), “The Queen” (2006) and “Philomena” (2013). All four films won festival prizes, but Frears has yet to claim the coveted Golden Lion. “Victoria & Abdul” will be screened out of competition.
Frears is the 12th recipient of the Jaeger-LeCoultre prize since its inception in 2006. He will be presented with the award at a ceremony at the Sala Grande (Palazzo del Cinema) on Sept. 3, ahead of the world premiere of “Victoria & Abdul.”
Barbera described Frears as “prolific and unpredictable, eclectic and provocative,” and as someone who, unlike many directors, was unafraid of seeming self-contradictory. He also praised the director’s ability to pass between genres, from the social realism of the 1980s to biographies, comedies and historical dramas, as well as moving seamlessly between British and American productions, with an impressive roster of films including “My Beautiful Launderette,” “Dangerous Liaisons” and “High Fidelity.” Barbera said this contrast “might be the most interesting aspect of his work.”
Past recipients of the award include Takeshi Kitano, Abbas Kiarostami, Agnes Varda, Sylvester Stallone, Mani Ratnam, Al Pacino, Spike Lee, Ettore Scola, James Franco, Brian De Palma and Amir Naderi.
This year’s Venice Film Festival runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9 and will open with Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing.”