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Venice film festival are to honour Paul Schrader

It has been announced today (May 4th) that American director and screenwriter Paul Schrader will receive the lifetime achievement, ‘Golden Lion’, at the 79th Venice International Film Festival which takes place from August 31st to September 10th this year.

Schrader’s impressive body of work is highlighted by his successful collaborations with Martin Scorsese. He wrote and co-wrote four of Martin Scorsese’s most successful screenplays: Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Bringing Out the Dead (1999).

Schrader is also praised for his work directing the Oscar-winning film The Card Counter (2021), which premiered at Venice last year. Other notable features directed by Schrader include First Reformed, Cat People and American Gigolo.

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Schrader began his career in film in 1974 with his first script, The Yakuza. He co-wrote the Japanese crime drama alongside his brother Leonard. The script entered an unprecedented bidding war, eventually selling for  $325,000. The film was subsequently directed by  Sydney Pollack and starred Robert Mitchum.

Although the final release of The Yakuza was commercially unsuccessful, it brought Schrader under the noses of a new generation of Hollywood filmmakers who saw potential in his writing abilities. Before his successful collaborative run with Scorsese, Schrader also wrote an early draft for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Unfortunately, Spielberg wasn’t entirely happy with the script deeming it “terribly guilt-ridden,” and opted for something lighter in the end.

“Paul Schrader is a key figure of New Hollywood who, from the late 1960s on, has revolutionised the imagination, aesthetics, and language of American film,” said festival director Alberto Barbera following the recent announcement.

“It is not an exaggeration to affirm that he is one of the most important American filmmakers of his generation, a director who is deeply influenced by European film and culture, and a stubbornly independent screenwriter who nonetheless knows how to work on commission and confidently move within the Hollywood system.”