ROME — The Venice Film Festival said Thursday it will give its lifetime achievement award this year to Oscar-winning director and actor Roberto Benigni.
The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement is to be awarded at the 78th edition of the world's oldest film festival, scheduled for Sept. 1-11 on the Lido.
Benigni wrote, directed and starred in "La Vita e Bella," ("Life is Beautiful"), which won the Oscar for best foreign language film, best actor and best musical score in 1999.
In announcing the decision, Venice director Alberto Barbera called Benigni "one of the most extraordinary comedy actors in an admittedly rich gallery of Italian performers," and noted his more recent solo performances reading Dante's "Divine Comedy."
Benigni, perhaps best remembered for climbing on top of the audience chair when he won the Oscar, was more restrained on Thursday. "My heart is full of joy and gratitude," he said in a statement.
Venice was one of the few international film festivals to be held fully in-person last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, using reserved seating arrangements and extra screenings to ensure socially distanced viewing.