Italian production designer Tonino Zera, whose credits include Roman Polanski’s upcoming drama The Palace, will be feted with the Campari Passion Award at the 80th edition of Venice Film Festival, running from August 30 to September 9.
The prize, which was launched at the 75th Venice Film Festival, pays tribute to cinema crafts professionals who have made a “remarkable contribution” to the films on which they have worked.
Previous recipients span U.S. film editor Bob Murawski, Italian cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, U.S. jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard, UK production designer Marcus Rowland, and U.S. artist and costume designer Arianne Phillips.
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Zera will be presented with the award on September 2 ahead of the Out of Competition world premiere of The Palace in the Sala Grande.
“To receive the prestigious Campari Passion for Film Award during the Venice Film Festival is not only a personal honor, it is also a recognition of the importance of set design in the world of cinema,” said Zera.
“The award highlights the role played by visual narration, its ability to evoke emotions, and its power to transport audiences into the heart of a movie. Emotions that I have tried to convey in The Palace, directed by Roman Polanski, whose guidance and creative genius were a source of inspiration for me. To collaborate with such a visionary director was a boundless privilege. It was a journey of imagination and meticulous details.”
Zera’s more than one hundred film and TV credits also include The First King, Rose Island and Angel of Evil and he is currently working on Nick Hamm’s new film William Tell
Venice Film Festival Artistic Director Alberto Barbera praised Zera for the way he had combined an “artisanal dimension” with “technological and digital innovation” across the course of his career.
“Zera has contributed to the modernization of film and advertising set design with curiosity and creativity, helping to give form to the imagination of the directors with whom he has worked, from his debut with Carlo Vanzina and Paolo Virzì to Spike Lee, Giuseppe Tornatore, Carlo Verdone, Francesco Patierno, Gabriele Muccino, all the way to Roman Polanski, who called on him to design the sets of his latest movie, The Palace.
Set against the backdrop of a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps during a 2000 New Year’s Party, ensemble drama The Palace features Oliver Masucci, Fanny Ardant, John Cleese, Bronwyn James, Joaquim De Almeida, Luca Barbareschi, Milan Peschel, Fortunato Cerlino and Mickey Rourke in the cast.
Venice is courting controversy with its decision to invite the film given the ongoing debate around Polanski, who fled rape charges in the U.S. 45 years ago and is also the subject of another five fresh sexual assault allegations, which he has denied.
Barbera told Deadline last month that for him the ongoing controversy around Polanski related to the U.S. charges “doesn’t make any sense”.
It remains to be seen which cast members will attend amid the ongoing actors’ strike but Barbera has already ready confirmed that Polanski, who turns 90 next week, will not be present in Venice.
The Palace is produced by Luca Barbareschi for Èliseo Entertainment with Rai Cinema, in co-production with Lucky BOB (Poland), CAB Productions (Switzerland), and RP Productions (France). Polanski co-wrote the screenplay with Jerzy Skolimowski and Ewa Piąskowska.
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