You have to like any award that links Abbas Kiarostami to Sylvester Stallone, Agnes Varda to Al Pacino and, now, Spike Lee — even if it’s one of those career achievement prizes determined more by who’s going to be in town than anything else. Lee, it was announced today, will be the latest recipient of the splendidly named Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award (named for a film by its inaugural recipient, Takeshi Kitano) at the Venice Film Festival later this month.
It’s slightly bittersweet seeing Lee ascend to the realm of golden-watch awards. It doesn’t seem that long ago that he was the abrasive upstart instead, but then, it has been all too long since he last made a feature film that shook anything up. (His latest, “Red Hook Summer,” received mixed reviews at Sundance in January and opens in limited release next week.) He’s arguably made more of an impression in the later career as a documentarian, and the Venice award presentation will immediately precede the world premiere of his Michael Jackson documentary, “Bad 25,” at the festival.
Lee has a happy history with Venice, having served once as a Competition juror and having previously taken eight films to the Lido — two of them, “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990) and “Clockers” (1995), in Competition. He left empty-handed on both occasions, though in 2006, his mammoth post-Katrina doc “When the Levees Broke” premiered in Venice and took the Orrizzonti documentary award.
By Guy Lodge via Spike Lee to receive career award at Venice Film Festival.