Despite his work being sometimes tepidly received at all corners of the globe, James Franco, the filmmaker, has been a major force on the world festival stage. He'll be showing up at Venice once again this year with his William Faulkner adaptation “The Sound and the Fury,” but while he's there he'll be picking up some hardware.
The festival has announced that Franco has been awarded the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker prize, dedicated to a personality who has made an original contribution to innovation in contemporary cinema. Calling the multi-hyphenate a “relentless 'manufacturer' of cultural imagery” (problem a great, non-value-judgment way of putting it), Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera said that Franco “is one of the most versatile and multi-talented auteurs on the current American scene, as an actor in cinema and theatre, director, screenwriter, producer, soap-opera star, video-artist and much more.”
Barbera went on to note that Franco's latest, which will screen Out of Competition at the fest, is “characterized by boldness, lucidity, courage and self-confidence. These values transform his omnivorous verve into a concept of total art performance, founded on considerable curiosity and intelligence.
Franco first popped up at Venice three years ago with his directorial debut, “Sal,” on the life of actor Sal Mineo. He also presented a visual arts installation that year called “Rebel,” a tribute to Nicholas Ray's “Rebel Without a Cause.” He came back to the Lido a year later with Harmony Korine's “Spring Breakers” and Gia Coppola's “Palo Alto,” and also screened his “Child of God” in Competition.
“The Sound and the Fury,” which stars Franco, Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson, Joey King, Ahna O'Reilly, Seth Rogen and Jon Hamm, is Franco's second Faulker adaptation. He brought “As I Lay Dying” to the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.