Venice honours an “astonished” Vanessa Redgrave

September 2018

The celebrated British actress received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 75th Venice International Film Festival

World-renowned British actress Vanessa Redgrave was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.

Redgrave’s career spans 60 years, during which time she has been nominated for six Oscars, winning in 1977, and also collecting a Tony, an Olivier, an Emmy, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.

“I am astonished and especially delighted to hear that I will be awarded by the Venice Film Festival for a life’s work in film,” says Redgrave, 81.

The actress was filming in the Italian city only last summer, starring in the much-anticipated period drama The Aspern Papers, based on the 1888 novella by Henry James.The film is directed by Julien Landais and also stars Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck, The Tudors) and Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Vikings,The Tudors). Bruno Wang acted as co-executive producer alongside Academy Award-winner James Ivory.

Redgrave plays Juliana Bordereau, the seemingly manipulative mistress and muse of late Romantic poet Jeffrey Aspern. The secrets of their romantic affair are fabled to be contained in a set of love letters, and a ruthlessly ambitious young writer (Meyers) is determined to get his hands on them at any cost. Richardson, Redgrave’s daughter, plays Bordereau’s niece, Miss Tina. She is the key to unlocking the letters from the guarded Bordereau.

The Aspern Papers is not Redgrave’s only tie to Venice: “Many, many years ago I filmed La Vacanza in the marshes of the Veneto,” the acclaimed actress says. “My character spoke every word in the Venetian dialect. I bet I am the only non-Italian actress to act an entire role in Venetian dialect!”

The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement is the highest prize awarded at the event, which is the world’s oldest film festival. It celebrates the work of those who have made the greatest contribution to cinema.

Festival director Alberto Barbera recommended Redgrave for the award and praised her as “unanimously considered one of today’s best actresses… gifted with a natural elegance, innate seductive power, and extraordinary talent”.