Tim Burton Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Croff,Müller, Burton, 2005The American director Tim Burton, will be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 64th Venice International Film Festival (29th August – 8th September 2007). The Golden Lion pays homage again to one of the most courageous, visionary and innovative American filmmakers who have been able to move and fascinate the widest and broadest audience, and to be always suspended between art and industry.  Mr. Burton’s Golden Lion was proposed by Festival Director, Marco Müller, and approved by the Board of Directors of Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Davide Croff. The previous recipient of the honor was David Lynch in 2006.

The award will be presented to the director on Wednesday 5th September, during a special “Tim Burton Day” (with a series of surprise offerings) at the next Venice Film Festival set to take place in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema.

Tim Burton had chosen the Venice Film Festival to present his two animated masterpieces, The Nightmare Before Christmas (given its international premiere at the 1994 Festival) and Corpse Bride (given its world premiere at the 2005 Festival).

Across twelve full-length feature films in 23 years, Tim Burton has demonstrated astounding versatility without ever sacrificing the thematic and stylistic unity of his work. Burton’s movies veer from enchantment to melancholy, often within the same frame, and his fantasy-scapes can mix Gothic horror and oddball comedy.  Though he works in and around Hollywood, his films often fall outside the contemporary paradigm of American cinema. Through the box-office successes and artistic achievements of Batman, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Burton’s consistently outstanding work has been defined by a unique, personal stamp that marks him as one of contemporary cinema’s true visionaries. He is currently in production on his big screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical thriller Sweeney Todd, a co-production of Warner Bros. Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures, starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen and Christopher Lee.

The Venice Film Festival director, Marco Müller, declared: “Tim Burton is a cinematic genius, the most imaginative child of the new age of cinema. He has a unique talent of being able to imbue his fantasies with emotional depth. He can build the most visionary dreamscapes (that reach to the eternal child within us), without ever forgetting his sense of aesthetic integrity and his natural sympathy for the alienated outsider. More insolently pop than most of the contemporary new directors, and less eager for approval than most of the older ones, there is not a bankable Hollywood director with a flintier sense of cinema than him.”

Tim Burton – Biographical Notes

Corpse Bride marked Tim Burton’s (Director / Producer) second film released in 2005.  Most recently, Burton directed the fantasy adventure Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore.  Based on the beloved Roald Dahl classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opened to impressive critical and box office success and continues to entertain audiences everywhere.

Burton’s previous film was Big Fish, a heartwarming tale of a fabled relationship between a father and his son.  The film was hailed as Burton’s most personal and emotional to date, earning respectable reviews and box office. Big Fish starred Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Jessica Lange and Billy Crudup.  Prior to Big Fish, Burton directed Planet of the Apes, a project that brought him together with producer Richard D. Zanuck, the former 20th Century Fox studio head who had greenlit the original film in l968. Burton’s Planet of the Apes starred Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan and Kris Kristofferson and was a summer 2001 box office hit.

All of Burton’s films are well known for the highly imaginative and detailed world he creates to surround and inform the story.  They include Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks! and Sleepy Hollow.

Burton began drawing at an early age, attended Cal Arts Institute on a Disney fellowship and, soon after, joined the studio as an animator. He made his directing debut with the animated short Vincent, narrated by Vincent Price. The film was a critical success and an award-winner on the festival circuit. Burton’s next in-house project was a live-action short film called Frankenweenie, an inventive and youthful twist on the Frankenstein legend.

In 1985, Burton’s first feature film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, was a box-office hit and the director was praised for his original vision. Beetlejuice (l988), a supernatural comedy starring Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin and Winona Ryder, was another critical and financial success.

In 1989, Burton directed the blockbuster Batman starring Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, and Kim Basinger. Following the triumph of Batman, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) awarded Burton the Director of the Year Award.  The film also won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction. Edward Scissorhands, starring Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder and Diane Wiest, was one of the big hits of the 1990 Christmas season and acclaimed for its original vision and poignant fairy tale sensibility. In 1992, Burton once again explored the dark underworld of Gotham City in Batman Returns, the highest grossing film of that year, which featured Michelle Pfeiffer as the formidable Catwoman and Danny DeVito as the Penguin.

In 1994, Burton produced and directed Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp in the title role. The film garnered Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi) and Best Special Effects Makeup.

Burton conceived and produced the stop-motion animation adventure Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, an original holiday tale that has become a seasonal perennial.  He also produced 1993’s Cabin Boy and 1995’s summer blockbusterBatman Forever, as well as the 1996 release of James and the Giant Peach, based on Roald Dahl’s children’s novel.

Burton produced and directed Mars Attacks!, a sci-fi comedy based on the original Topps trading card series, starring an elite array of 20 leading players including Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito and Annette Bening.

In 1999 Burton directed Sleepy Hollow, which was inspired by Washington Irving’s classic story and starred Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson and Michael Gambon. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Costume Design and Best Cinematography and won the Oscar for Best Art Direction. Honors from BAFTA included Best Costume Design and Best Production Design.

Burton authored and illustrated a children’s book for The Nightmare Before Christmas, released in conjunction with the film. His next book of drawings and rhyming verse, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, was praised by the New York Times for “conveying the pain of an adolescent outsider”.