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Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Chinese actress heads Venice jury
Gong Li
Gong Li has won awards at Venice Film Festival
One of China's best known actresses, Gong Li, has been picked to head the Venice Film Festival jury.

She is no stranger to success at the world's oldest film festival as her film Raise the Red Lantern won the top Golden Lion best film award in 1991.

The following year she won a best actress award for The Story of Qui Ju, directed by Zhang Yimou.

Gong, 36, also starred in the Oscar-nominated Farewell My Concubine in 1994, which made the transition into Western art house cinema.

But although she is known for her graceful performances she has also run into criticism in her home country for portraying China as backward and feudalistic.

Honorary Golden Lion

The prestigious position of jury chief is usually afforded to directors and last year was headed by Italian film-maker Nanni Moretti, a Cannes Palme D'or winner.

The last time an actor took the role was in 1992 when Dennis Hopper was co-president, although he has directed a number of movies.

Nicole Kidman was one of the stars at the festival
Nicole Kidman was one of the stars at the 2002 festival
Festival organisers have also announced they will present an honorary Golden Lion to Italian director Dino Riso.

The 85-year-old will receive the honour for his life's work which include films such as Poor But Beautiful, The Easy Life and Profumo di Donna, which was nominated for a best foreign film Oscar in 1974.

The 2002 Venice Film Festival, which runs from 29 August to 8 September, has a new director, following the departure of Alberto Barbera.

New boss Moritz de Hadeln, from Switzerland, had been the director at Berlin for 22 years before leaving in 1991 after falling out with the German Government.

Glamorous

Although he has the necessary experience, his appointment still caused upset as some felt the festival should be led by and Italian.

The Venice film festival is regarded as one of the most glamorous events on the movie calendar.

It is perhaps a more commercial prospect than its Cannes equivalent, with more Hollywood films and their stars in attendance.

Nicole Kidman and Gene Hackman were among the stars last year.

The Indian film, Monsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair, won the main prize at Venice, the Golden Lion award, at the last festival.

See also:

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