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Il Leone d’Oro ( ) is the highest prize given to a film at the Biennale 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 distinguished prizes. In 1970, a second Golden Lion was introduced; this is an honorary award for people who have made an important contribution to cinema.

The prize was introduced in 1949 as the Golden Lion of St. Mark (the winged lion which had appeared on the flag of the Venetian Republicmarker). 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 for Best Italian Film and Best Foreign Film.

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."

Grand International Prize of Venice

Year Title Director
1947 Siréna Karel Stekly
1948 Hamlet Laurence Olivier

Golden Lion

Of note is that Golden Lion awards tend to be presented to European men. Since 1949 only a few women have ever won the Golden Lion for directing, Indian-born Mira Nair, German Margarethe von Trotta and Belgium's Agnès Varda, who both won more than two decades ago. Although numerous Americans have won honorary awards at the festival, Americans have only won the Golden Lion three times, with awards for John Cassavetes and Robert Altman (both times the awards were shared with other winners who tied), and Darren Aronofsky (the first sole American to win the award).

Year Title Director Country of origin
1949 Manon Henri-Georges Clouzot
1950 Justice Is Done André Cayatte
1951 Rashōmon Akira Kurosawa
1952 Forbidden Games René Clément
1953 No award
1954 Romeo and Juliet Renato Castellani
1955 The Word Carl Theodor Dreyer
1956 No award
1957 The Unvanquished Satyajit Ray
1958 Rickshaw Man Hiroshi Inagaki
1959 General della Rovere

The Great War

Roberto Rosselini

Mario Monicelli

1960 The Crossing of the Rhine André Cayatte
1961 Last Year at Marienbad Alain Resnais
1962 Family Diary (tie)
Ivan's Childhood (tie)
Valerio Zurlini
Andrei Tarkovsky

1963 Hands Over the City Francesco Rosi
1964 Red Desert Michelangelo Antonioni
1965 Sandra of a Thousand Delights Luchino Visconti
1966 The Battle of Algiers Gillo Pontecorvo
1967 Beauty of the Day Luis Buñuel
1968 Artists under the Big Top: Perplexed Alexander Kluge
1969-79 No award
1980 Atlantic City (tie)
Gloria (tie)
Louis Malle
John Cassavetes

1981 Marianne and Juliane Margarethe von Trotta
1982 The State of Things Wim Wenders
1983 First Name: Carmen Jean-Luc Godard
1984 The Year of the Quiet Sun Krzysztof Zanussi
1985 Vagabond Agnès Varda
1986 The Green Ray Éric Rohmer
1987 Au revoir, les enfants Louis Malle
1988 The Legend of the Holy Drinker Ermanno Olmi
1989 A City of Sadness Hou Hsiao-Hsien
1990 Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Tom Stoppard /
1991 Urga Nikita Mikhalkov
1992 The Story of Qiu Ju Zhang Yimou
1993 Short Cuts (tie)
Three Colours: Blue (tie)
Robert Altman
Krzysztof Kieślowski

1994 Vive L'Amour (tie)
Before the Rain (tie)
Tsai Ming-liang
Milčo Mančevski

1995 Cyclo Anh Hung Tran
1996 Michael Collins Neil Jordan
1997 Fireworks Takeshi Kitano
1998 The Way We Laughed Gianni Amelio
1999 Not One Less Zhang Yimou
2000 The Circle Jafar Panahi
2001 Monsoon Wedding Mira Nair / / / /
2002 The Magdalene Sisters Peter Mullan
2003 The Return Andrey Zvyagintsev
2004 Vera Drake Mike Leigh
2005 Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee
2006 Still Life Jia Zhangke
2007 Lust, Caution Ang Lee / /
2008 The Wrestler Darren Aronofsky
2009 Lebanon Samuel Maoz

Golden Lion – Honorary Award

Year Winner(s)
1970 Orson Welles
1971 Ingmar Bergman, Marcel Carné, Charles Aznavour and John Ford
1972 Charles Chaplin, Anatoly 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 Miklos Jancso
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 Gerard Depardieu, Stanley Kubrick and Alida Valli
1998 Warren Beatty, Sophia Loren and Andrzej Wajda
1999 Jerry Lewis
2000 Clint Eastwood and 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
2008 Ermanno Olmi
2009 John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich

See also


  1. Due to a tie between Harp of Burma by Kon Ichikawa and Calle Mayor by Juan Antonio Bardem. See Roos, Fred. "Venice Film Festival, 1956" in The Quarterly of Film Radio and Television, Vol. 11, No. 3. (Spring, 1957), p. 249.

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