Peter Weir to receive Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award at Venice Film Festival

Peter Weir. (Photo courtesy the National Film and Sound Archive)

Celebrated director Peter Weir will be honoured with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 81st Venice International Film Festival, to be held August 28 – September 7.

Since directing his first feature film, comedy-horror The Cars That Ate Paris, which he also wrote, Weir has been nominated for six Oscars, with directing nominations for Witness (1986), Dead Poets Society (1990), The Truman Show (1999) and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2004), for which he also received a Best Picture nomination. In addition, he earned a writing nomination for Green Card in 1990.

A pivotal figure in the New Wave of the ’70s, his credits also include Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Gallipoli, The Way Back, Fearless, The Mosquito Coast, and The Year of Living Dangerously.

Weir said it was a “considerable honour” to be recognised for his life’s work, describing the Golden Lion as “part of the folklore of our craft”.

The decision was made by the board of La Biennale di Venezia, which embraced the proposal of the Festival’s Director, Alberto Barbera.

“With a total of only thirteen movies directed over forty years, Peter Weir has secured a place in the firmament of the great directors of modern cinema,” Barbera said in a statement.

“At the end of the 1970s, he made a name for himself as the main man behind the rebirth of Australian film thanks to two movies, The Cars That Ate Paris and Picnic at Hanging Rock, the latter of which gained cult film status over the years. The international success of his two next movies, Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously, opened Hollywood’s doors to him and he soon became one of its major protagonists.

“In his films, Weir combines reflections on personal themes and a need to reach as vast an audience as possible. Despite the diversity of the topics he addresses, it is not difficult to discover a constant in his daring, rigorous, and spectacular film opus: a sensitivity that allows him to deal with highly up-to-date topics, such as a fascination with nature and its mysteries, the crisis of adults in consumerist societies, the difficulties of educating young people about life, the temptation of physical and cultural isolation, but also the lure of adventurous impulses and the instinct for rebellion.”

In 2022, Weir received an honorary Oscar at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ (AMPAS) Governors Awards.

Read the behind-the-scenes story about how Peter Weir’s rom-com ‘Green Card’ became an Australian-French co-production backed by the Australian government’s film agency: