Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel is heading to the Venice Film Festival — as jury president. Variety reports the “Zama” and “La Ciénaga” filmmaker will lead the competition jury at this year’s festival, making her only the seventh woman to hold the position in the lauded festival’s 76-year history. Over the course of the last two decades, the festival has beefed up on its female leadership representatives in the jury pool: in 2017, the jury was led by Annette Bening, while Catherine Deneuve and Gong Li tackled the gig in 2006 and 2002, respectively.
In announcing the presidential pick, festival head Alberto Barbera called Martel “Latin America’s most important female director and one of the top female directors worldwide,” adding that she had achieved such a vaunted status after making just “four feature films and a handful of shorts” over the course of her still-young career.
Barbera added in an official statement, “In her films, the originality of her stylistic research and her meticulous mise-en-scène are at the service of a worldview free of compromises, dedicated to exploring the mysteries of female sexuality and the dynamics of groups and classes.”
Martel’s last feature, “Zama,” premiered at Venice in 2017. It later went on to sweep Argentina’s version of the Academy Awards — the annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina awards — with wins for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography, in addition to four other wins. The film was overlooked by the Oscars, and though it was submitted as the country’s Best Foreign Language pick, it ultimately did not end up making the final cut (Chile’s “A Fantastic Woman” won that year).
“It’s an honor, a responsibility and a pleasure to be a part of this celebration of cinema, of humanity’s immense desire to understand itself,” said Martel in her own statement.
Martel will head the jury that awards both the Golden and Silver Lions, the festival’s highest honors. The other panel members have not yet been announced. In recent years, Venice has become a major player on the early festival season circuit. Golden Lion winners like “Roma,” “The Shape of Water,” and “The Wrestler” have gone on to wider awards acclaim.
Despite rising acclaim and awareness of her work, which runs the gamut from the intimate to the epic, Martel has mostly eschewed making the jump into typical Hollywood fare. Last year, the filmmaker shared that she met with Marvel to discuss directing the upcoming Black Widow standalone movie, and was dissuaded from joining the MCU fray by the sense that they were only interested in a female director to lend some credibility to the film.
Marvel announced last July that “Berlin Syndrome,” “Lore,” and “Somersault” filmmaker Cate Shortland was set to direct the movie. Shortland will be the the MCU’s first solo female filmmaker, as Anna Boden served s the co-director of this March’s “Captain Marvel,” alongside Ryan Fleck.
This year’s Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 28 to Sept. 7.