William Friedkin to receive Venice honour

William Friedkin Friedkin published his autobiography in April

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William Friedkin, director of The French Connection and The Exorcist, is to receive a lifetime achievement award at this year's Venice Film Festival.

"Venice... is a spiritual home to me," said the 77-year-old American, whose most recent film, Killer Joe, screened at the festival in 2011.

The honorary Golden Lion was a prize he "never expected" but was "proud to accept with gratitude and love".

Venice chief Alberto Barbera singled him out for his "revolutionary impact".

Friedkin, he said, had "contributed in a prominent way... to the profound renewal of American cinema regarded as the 'New Hollywood'".

The director, he continued, had "exploded the rules of documentary film-making in several works for television... and later revolutionised the popular genres of the crime film and the horror film."

Friedkin, who began his career in the mailroom of a Chicago TV station, won early critical attention for such documentaries as 1962's The People vs Paul Crump.

But he remains best known for 1971's gritty crime thriller The French Connection and for 1973 horror classic The Exorcist.

In 1995 he made his Venice debut by presenting Jade, starring Linda Fiorentino, in the festival's Venetian Nights section.

William Friedkin in 1988 The director enjoyed his greatest period of success in the 1970s

Other notable films include Cruising and To Live and Die in L.A, which helped launch the careers of Willem Dafoe and CSI's William Petersen.

In conjunction with the lifetime honour, Friedkin will present a restored version of his 1977 thriller Sorcerer.

According to the director, the film - a remake of 1953 French classic The Wages of Fear - was his "most personal" and "the most difficult to achieve".

"To realise that it's going to have a new life in cinema is something for which I'm deeply grateful," he said. "It is truly a Lazarus moment."

The 70th Venice film festival runs from 28 August to 7 September. The full line-up is expected to be announced in July.

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