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Bernardo Bertolucci to receive special Cannes prize

April 11, 2011 | 12:11 pm

The Cannes Film Festival has inaugurated a new prize and will hand it this year to Bernardo Bertolucci.

The award, called an honorary Palme d'Or after the festival's signature jury prize, will be given out at the opening ceremony every year. In the past, the festival, much like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has stepped in and handed its honorary prize only when it deemed fit (usually to filmmakers who've never won an actual Palme.) Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood have previously been recipients.

Bertolucci is, of course, the Italian auteur behind films such as "Last Tango in Paris" and "The Last Emperor," the latter of which netted him two Oscars. He has also made a number of acclaimed films in his native Italian, including the 1970 fascism exploration "The Conformist."

"The filmmaker (poet Attilio Bertolucci's son) has marked Italian cinema with intimate masterpieces as well as monumental frescoes," the festival noted in a statement, adding that "his political and social involvement, driven by a profound lyricism and an elegant and accurate direction, gives his films a unique place in the history of world cinema."

The news follows the announcement of South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho ("The Host," "Mother") as the head of the jury for the Camera d'Or. That prize is awarded to the filmmaker who made the best first feature that plays in competition.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Bernardo Bertolucci in 2204. Credit: Severine Brigeot / Fox Searchlight