ROME – The Venice Film Festival announced Wednesday that director and screenwriter Paul Schrader will head the international jury for the festival’s Horizons sidebar, while The Canyons, his first directorial effort in five years, will screen on the Lido, out of competition.
Written by Less than Zero and American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis, The Canyons stars actress and singer Lindsay Lohan, producer and director Gus Van Sant, and porn star James Deen in an erotic noir thriller about "youth, glamor, sex, and surveillance."
The film was reportedly turned down by the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW, but Venice, which will host the film’s international premiere, will represent a high-profile platform for the innovative project, which was made in a large part due to nearly $160,000 raised on crowd finding site Kickstarter.
Schrader’s selection as the head of the Horizon’s jury will also attract attention to the well regarded sidebar, which focuses on new trends in filmmaking.
With the appointment, Schrader joins Oscar-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci, previously announced as the head the main competition jury, and The Exorcist and The French Connection director William Friedkin, who will receive a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement, on the Lido this year.
Schrader, a protagonist in the new Hollywood movement, is the director behind 1980’s American Gigolo, with writing credits that include Taxi Driver (1978), Raging Bull (1980), and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). The Canyons is Schrader’s first directorial effort since post-World War II drama Adam Resurrected in 2008.
“Schrader has continually exercised his intelligence at the service of cinema and of his constant need for renewal,” Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said in a statement. “In virtue of his recognized interest in personal forms of film expression, he can contribute significantly to heightening the specific function of a section such as Horizons.”
The rest of the Horizons jury was not named. The seven-person jury will be charged with handing out five prizes from a section of 18 films.
The 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival will take place August 28-Sept. 7.