Golden Lion

The Golden Lion (Italian: Leone d'oro) is the highest prize given to a film at the Venice Film Festival. The prize was introduced in 1949 by the organizing committee and is now regarded as one of the film industry's most prestigious and distinguished prizes.[1] In 1970, a second Golden Lion was introduced; this is an honorary award for people who have made an important contribution to cinema.

Golden Lion
Leone d'oro  (Italian)
Golden Lion size.jpg
Presented byVenice Film Festival
First awarded1949
Currently held byHappening (2021)

The prize was introduced in 1949 as the Golden Lion of Saint Mark (the winged lion which had appeared on the flag of the Republic of Venice).[2] In 1954, the prize was permanently named Golden Lion. Previously, the equivalent prize was the Gran Premio Internazionale di Venezia (Grand International Prize of Venice), awarded in 1947 and 1948. Before that, from 1934 until 1942, the highest awards were the Coppa Mussolini (Mussolini Cup) for Best Italian Film and Best Foreign Film.


Golden Lion prize trophy

The prize was first awarded in 1949. Previously, the equivalent prize was the Gran Premio Internazionale di Venezia (Grand International Prize of Venice), awarded in 1947 and 1948. No Golden Lions were awarded between 1969 and 1979. According to the Biennale's official website, this hiatus was a result of the 1968 Lion being awarded to the radically experimental Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos; the website says that the awards "still had a statute dating back to the fascist era and could not side-step the general political climate. Sixty-eight produced a dramatic fracture with the past".[3] Fourteen French films have been awarded the Golden Lion, more than that of any other nation. However, there is considerable geographical diversity in the winners. Seven American filmmakers have won the Golden Lion, with awards for John Cassavetes and Robert Altman (both times the awards were shared with other winners who tied), as well as Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain was the first winning US film not to tie), Darren Aronofsky, Sofia Coppola, Todd Phillips, and Chloé Zhao.

Although prior to 1980, only three of 21 winners were of non-European origin, since the 1980s, the Golden Lion has been presented to a number of Asian filmmakers, particularly in comparison to the Cannes Film Festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, which has only been awarded to five Asian filmmakers since 1980. The Golden Lion, by contrast, has been awarded to ten Asians during the same time period, with two of these filmmakers winning it twice. Ang Lee won the Golden Lion twice within three years during the 2000s, once for an American film and once for a Chinese-language film. Zhang Yimou has also won twice. Other Asians to win the Golden Lion since 1980 include Jia Zhangke, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Ming-liang, Trần Anh Hùng, Takeshi Kitano, Kim Ki-duk, Jafar Panahi, Mira Nair, and Lav Diaz. Russian filmmakers have also won the Golden Lion several times, including since the end of the USSR.

Still, to date 33 of the 54 winners were European men (including Soviet/Russian winners). Since 1949, only six women have ever won the Golden Lion for directing: Margarethe von Trotta, Agnès Varda, Mira Nair, Sofia Coppola, Chloé Zhao, and Audrey Diwan.

In 2019, Joker became the first movie based on original comic book characters to win the prize.[4]

Golden LionEdit

Roberto Rossellini and Mario Monicelli winning the Golden Lion in 1959 for General Della Rovere and The Great War respectively.
Takeshi Kitano won for Hana-bi in 1997
Lorenzo Vigas won for From Afar in 2015
Todd Phillips won for Joker in 2019

The following films received the Golden Lions or the major awards of the Venice Film Festival:[5]

Year Film Original title Director(s) Country of origin
1946: Awarded as "Best Feature Film"
The Southerner Jean Renoir   United States
1947–1948: Awarded as "Grand International Prize of Venice"
The Strike Siréna Karel Steklý   Czechoslovakia
Hamlet Laurence Olivier   United Kingdom
1949–1953: Awarded as "Golden Lion of Saint Mark"
Manon Henri-Georges Clouzot   France
Justice Is Done Justice est faite André Cayatte   France
Rashomon 羅生門 Akira Kurosawa   Japan
Forbidden Games Jeux interdits René Clément   France
No award because the jury was unable to decide the winner. The prize was declared void.[6][7]
1954–present: Awarded as "Golden Lion"
Romeo and Juliet Renato Castellani   United Kingdom
Ordet Carl Theodor Dreyer   Denmark
No award because there was a tie between The Burmese Harp (ビルマの竪琴) by Kon Ichikawa (Japan) and Calle Mayor by Juan Antonio Bardem (Spain) and the international jury was unable to decide the winner. The prize was declared void.[8]
Aparajito Ôporajito Satyajit Ray   India
Rickshaw Man 無法松の一生 Hiroshi Inagaki   Japan
General Della Rovere # Il generale della Rovere Roberto Rossellini   France,   Italy
The Great War # La grande guerra Mario Monicelli   France,   Italy
Tomorrow Is My Turn Le Passage du Rhin André Cayatte   France
Last Year at Marienbad L'année dernière à Marienbad Alain Resnais   France
Family Diary # Cronaca familiare Valerio Zurlini   Italy
Ivan's Childhood # Ива́ново де́тство Andrei Tarkovsky   Soviet Union
Hands over the City Le mani sulla città Francesco Rosi   Italy
Red Desert Il deserto rosso Michelangelo Antonioni   Italy
Sandra Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa ... Luchino Visconti   Italy
The Battle of Algiers La battaglia di Algeri Gillo Pontecorvo   Algeria,   Italy
Belle de Jour Luis Buñuel   France
Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos Alexander Kluge   West Germany
No award because this edition of the festival was not competitive.[9]
No award because this edition of the festival was not competitive.[10]
No award because this edition of the festival was not competitive.[10]
No awards because this edition of the festival was not competitive.[10]
1973 The festival was not organized.[11]
The festival was not organized. During these years, a cinema section within the Biennale was organized with "proposals for new films", tributes, retrospectives, and conventions, including some screenings.[10]
1977 The festival was not organized. There was an event integrated into the Biennale project on "cultural dissent" focused on cinema in Eastern Europe.[10]
1978 The festival was not organized.[10]
No award because this edition of the festival was not competitive.[12]
Atlantic City # Louis Malle   Canada
Gloria # John Cassavetes   United States
Marianne and Juliane Die Bleierne Zeit Margarethe von Trotta   West Germany
The State of Things Der Stand der Dinge Wim Wenders   West Germany
First Name: Carmen Prénom Carmen Jean-Luc Godard   France
A Year of the Quiet Sun Rok spokojnego słońca Krzysztof Zanussi   Poland
Vagabond Sans toit ni loi Agnès Varda   France
The Green Ray Le Rayon vert Éric Rohmer   France
Au revoir les enfants Louis Malle   France,   West Germany
The Legend of the Holy Drinker La leggenda del santo bevitore Ermanno Olmi   Italy,   France
A City of Sadness 悲情城市 Hou Hsiao-hsien   Taiwan
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Tom Stoppard   United Kingdom,   United States
Close to Eden У́рга — территория любви Nikita Mikhalkov   Soviet Union
The Story of Qiu Ju 秋菊打官司 Zhang Yimou   China
Short Cuts # Robert Altman   United States
Three Colours: Blue # Trois couleurs: Bleu Krzysztof Kieślowski   France,   Poland
Before the Rain # Пред дождот Milčo Mančevski   North Macedonia
Vive L'Amour # 愛情萬歲 Tsai Ming-liang   Taiwan
Cyclo Xích lô Anh Hung Tran   Vietnam,   France
Michael Collins Neil Jordan   Ireland,   United Kingdom,   United States
Hana-bi はなび Takeshi Kitano   Japan
The Way We Laughed Così ridevano Gianni Amelio   Italy
Not One Less 一個都不能少 Zhang Yimou   China
The Circle دایره Jafar Panahi   Iran
Monsoon Wedding Mira Nair   India
The Magdalene Sisters Peter Mullan   Ireland,   United Kingdom
The Return Возвращение Andrey Zvyagintsev   Russia
Vera Drake Mike Leigh   United Kingdom
Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee   United States
Still Life 三峡好人 Jia Zhangke   China
Lust, Caution 色,戒 Ang Lee   Taiwan,   China,   United States
The Wrestler Darren Aronofsky   United States
Lebanon לבנון Samuel Maoz   Israel
Somewhere § Sofia Coppola   United States
Faust § Alexander Sokurov   Russia
Pietà 피에타 Kim Ki-duk   South Korea
Sacro GRA Gianfranco Rosi   Italy
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron Roy Andersson   Sweden
From Afar Desde allá Lorenzo Vigas   Venezuela
The Woman Who Left Ang Babaeng Humayo Lav Diaz   Philippines
The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro   United States
Roma Alfonso Cuarón   Mexico
Joker Todd Phillips   United States
Nomadland Chloé Zhao   United States
Happening § L'Événement Audrey Diwan   France
# Denotes Ex-aequo win
§ Denotes unanimous win

Multiple winnersEdit

Four directors have won the award twice:

Golden Lion Honorary AwardEdit

Marcello Mastroianni receiving the prize in 1990
Steven Spielberg receiving the prize from Gillo Pontecorvo in 1993
Martin Scorsese receiving the prize from Monica Vitti, 1995
Omar Sharif receiving the prize in 2003

Year Winner(s)
1969 Luis Buñuel[13]
1970 Orson Welles
1971 Ingmar Bergman, Marcel Carné and John Ford
1972 Charlie Chaplin, Anatoli Golovnya and Billy Wilder
1982 Alessandro Blasetti, Luis Buñuel, Frank Capra, George Cukor, Jean-Luc Godard, Sergei Yutkevich, Alexander Kluge, Akira Kurosawa, Michael Powell, Satyajit Ray, King Vidor and Cesare Zavattini
1983 Michelangelo Antonioni
1985 Manoel de Oliveira, John Huston and Federico Fellini
1986 Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani
1987 Luigi Comencini and Joseph L. Mankiewicz
1988 Joris Ivens
1989 Robert Bresson
1990 Marcello Mastroianni and Miklós Jancsó
1991 Mario Monicelli and Gian Maria Volonté
1992 Jeanne Moreau, Francis Ford Coppola and Paolo Villaggio
1993 Steven Spielberg, Robert De Niro, Roman Polanski and Claudia Cardinale
1994 Al Pacino, Suso Cecchi d'Amico and Ken Loach
1995 Woody Allen, Monica Vitti, Martin Scorsese, Alberto Sordi, Ennio Morricone, Giuseppe De Santis, Goffredo Lombardo and Alain Resnais
1996 Robert Altman, Vittorio Gassman, Dustin Hoffman and Michèle Morgan
1997 Gérard Depardieu, Stanley Kubrick and Alida Valli
1998 Warren Beatty, Sophia Loren and Andrzej Wajda
1999 Jerry Lewis
2000 Clint Eastwood
2001 Éric Rohmer
2002 Dino Risi
2003 Dino De Laurentiis and Omar Sharif
2004 Stanley Donen and Manoel de Oliveira
2005 Hayao Miyazaki and Stefania Sandrelli
2006 David Lynch
2007 Tim Burton and Bernardo Bertolucci (for the last 75 years of the history of cinema)
2008 Ermanno Olmi
2009 John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
2010 John Woo
2011 Marco Bellocchio
2012 Francesco Rosi
2013 William Friedkin
2014 Thelma Schoonmaker and Frederick Wiseman
2015 Bertrand Tavernier
2016 Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jerzy Skolimowski
2017 Jane Fonda and Robert Redford
2018 David Cronenberg and Vanessa Redgrave
2019 Julie Andrews and Pedro Almodóvar
2020 Ann Hui and Tilda Swinton[14]
2021 Roberto Benigni and Jamie Lee Curtis

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "25 Must-See Films That Won the Venice Film Festival". IndieWire. 2018. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  2. ^ "Biennale Cinema History of the Venice Film Festival: The Forties and Fifties". La Biennale di Venezia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  3. ^ "Biennale Cinema History of the Venice Film Festival: The Sixties and Seventies". La Biennale di Venezia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  4. ^ Donaldson, Kayleigh (September 11, 2019). "Joker's Insane Venice Film Festival Win Explained". Screen Rant. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  5. ^ "Golden Lions and major awards of the Venice Film Festival". Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  6. ^ "14. Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia". La Biennale di Venezia (in Italian). Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  7. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie (September 5, 2013). "Venice update: Kelly Reichardt's Night Moves, James Franco's Child of God, and more". LA Weekly. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  8. ^ Roos, Fred (Spring 1957). "Venice Film Festival, 1956" (PDF). The Quarterly of Film Radio and Television. University of California Press. 11 (3): 249. doi:10.2307/1209744. Retrieved April 5, 2020. The report began with a few sentences of praise for each of the 14 films [sic], and then selected the Japanese Harp of Burma and the Spanish Calle Mayor as being particularly outstanding. Since the jury was unable to decide which of these two films was the superior, it had decided not to award a grand prix "St. Mark Golden Lion" this year.
  9. ^ "30. Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia". La Biennale di Venezia (in Italian). Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Venice Film Festival History 1932-2019: The 70s". La Biennale di Venezia. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  11. ^ "The Post-war period: 1948 - 1973". La Biennale di Venezia. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  12. ^ "Venice Film Fete in Quest of Glamour". The New York Times. August 28, 1979. Retrieved April 24, 2020. Carlo Lizzani, leftist director and the festival's new president, has not so far managed to restore the “Golden Lion” awards presented at Venice until 1968
  13. ^ "The awards of the Venice Film Festival". La Biennale di Venezia. Retrieved 2017-01-01.
  14. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (2020-07-20). "Venice Film Festival to Honor Tilda Swinton, Ann Hui With Golden Lions for Career Achievement". Variety. Retrieved 2020-07-23.

External linksEdit