Golden Lion
Leone d'oro (Italian)
Presented byVenice Film Festival
First awarded1949
Currently held byPoor Things (2023)

The Golden Lion (Italian: Leone d'oro) is the highest prize given to a film at the Venice Film Festival. The prize was introduced in 1949 by the organizing committee and is now regarded as one of the film industry's most prestigious and distinguished prizes.[1] In 1970, a second Golden Lion was introduced; this is an honorary award for people who have made an important contribution to cinema.

The prize was introduced in 1949 as the Golden Lion of Saint Mark (which was one of the best known symbols of the ancient Republic of Venice).[2] In 1954, the prize was permanently named Golden Lion.


Golden Lion prize trophy
Roberto Rossellini and Mario Monicelli winning the Golden Lion in 1959 for General Della Rovere and The Great War respectively.

The prize awarded as the Golden Lion was in 1949. Previously, the equivalent prize was the Gran Premio Internazionale di Venezia (Grand International Prize of Venice), awarded in 1947 and 1948. No Golden Lions were awarded between 1969 and 1979. According to the Biennale's official website, this hiatus was a result of the 1968 Lion being awarded to the radically experimental Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos; the website says that the awards "still had a statute dating back to the fascist era and could not side-step the general political climate. Sixty-eight produced a dramatic fracture with the past".[3] Fourteen French films have been awarded the Golden Lion, more than that of any other nation. However, there is considerable geographical diversity in the winners. Eight American filmmakers have won the Golden Lion, with awards for John Cassavetes and Robert Altman (both times the awards were shared with other winners who tied), as well as Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain was the first winning US film not to tie), Darren Aronofsky, Sofia Coppola, Todd Phillips, Chloé Zhao, and Laura Poitras.

Although prior to 1980, only three of 21 winners were of non-European origin, since the 1980s, the Golden Lion has been presented to a number of Asian filmmakers, particularly in comparison to the Cannes Film Festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, which has only been awarded to five Asian filmmakers since 1980. The Golden Lion, by contrast, has been awarded to ten Asians during the same time period, with two of these filmmakers winning it twice. Ang Lee won the Golden Lion twice within three years during the 2000s, once for an American film and once for a Chinese-language film. Zhang Yimou has also won twice. Other Asians to win the Golden Lion since 1980 include Jia Zhangke, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Ming-liang, Trần Anh Hùng, Takeshi Kitano, Kim Ki-duk, Jafar Panahi, Mira Nair, and Lav Diaz. Russian filmmakers have also won the Golden Lion several times, including since the end of the USSR.

Still, to date 33 of the 54 winners were European men (including Soviet/Russian winners). Since 1949, only seven women have ever won the Golden Lion for directing: Margarethe von Trotta, Agnès Varda, Mira Nair, Sofia Coppola, Chloé Zhao, Audrey Diwan, and Laura Poitras (though in 1938, German director Leni Riefenstahl won the Festival when its highest award was the Coppa Mussolini).

In 2019, Joker became the first movie based on original comic book characters to win the prize.[4]


From 1934 until 1942, the highest award of the festival was the Coppa Mussolini for Best Italian Film and Best Foreign Film. Even though other awards were attributed to Nazi propaganda films, such as Jud Süß (Suss, the Jew), an Antisemitic production made at the behest of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, won the festival's Golden Crow[5][6] award in 1940.[7][8][9]

Gran Premio Internazionale di Venezia

After the end of the WWII, during the reestablishment of the festival, The Southerner, directed by Jean Renoir, won the main prize at the 1946 edition. During 1947 and 1948 the equivalent prize for the Golden Lion was the Gran Premio Internazionale di Venezia (Grand International Prize of Venice), awarded to Karel Steklý's The Strike in 1947 and Laurence Olivier's Hamlet in 1948.

Golden Lion

The following films received the Golden Lions or the major awards of the Venice Film Festival:[10]

Year English Title Original Title Director(s) Production Country
1949–1953: Awarded as "Golden Lion of Saint Mark"
Manon Henri-Georges Clouzot France
Justice Is Done Justice est faite André Cayatte France
Rashomon 羅生門 Akira Kurosawa Japan
Forbidden Games Jeux interdits René Clément France
No award given, the jury was unable to decide the winner, the prize was declared void.[11][12]
1954–present: Awarded as "Golden Lion"
Romeo and Juliet Renato Castellani United Kingdom
Ordet Carl Theodor Dreyer Denmark
No award given. There was a tie between The Burmese Harp (ビルマの竪琴) by Kon Ichikawa (Japan) and Calle Mayor by Juan Antonio Bardem (Spain) and the international jury was unable to decide the winner, the prize was declared void.[13]
Aparajito অপরাজিত Satyajit Ray India
Rickshaw Man 無法松の一生 Hiroshi Inagaki Japan
General Della Rovere Il generale della Rovere Roberto Rossellini France, Italy
The Great War La grande guerra Mario Monicelli
Tomorrow Is My Turn Le Passage du Rhin André Cayatte France
Last Year at Marienbad L'année dernière à Marienbad Alain Resnais
Family Diary Cronaca familiare Valerio Zurlini Italy
Ivan's Childhood Ива́ново де́тство Andrei Tarkovsky Soviet Union
Hands over the City Le mani sulla città Francesco Rosi Italy
Red Desert Il deserto rosso Michelangelo Antonioni
Sandra Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa ... Luchino Visconti
The Battle of Algiers La battaglia di Algeri Gillo Pontecorvo Algeria, Italy
Belle de Jour Luis Buñuel France
Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos Alexander Kluge West Germany
No award given, this edition of the festival was not competitive.[14]
No award given, these editions of the festival were not competitive.[15]
1973 No award given, the festival was not organized this year.[16]
No award given, the festival was not organized during these years. Even though a cinema section within the Biennale was organized with "proposals for new films", tributes, retrospectives, conventions, and some screenings.[15]
1977 No award given, the festival was not organized this year. Even though an event integrated into the Biennale project on "cultural dissent" focused on cinema in Eastern Europe took place.[15]
1978 No award given, the festival was not organized this year.[15]
No award given, this edition of the festival was not competitive.[17]
Atlantic City Louis Malle Canada, France
Gloria John Cassavetes United States
Marianne and Juliane Die Bleierne Zeit Margarethe von Trotta West Germany
The State of Things Der Stand der Dinge Wim Wenders
First Name: Carmen Prénom Carmen Jean-Luc Godard France
A Year of the Quiet Sun Rok spokojnego słońca Krzysztof Zanussi Poland
Vagabond Sans toit ni loi Agnès Varda France
The Green Ray Le Rayon vert Éric Rohmer
Au revoir les enfants Louis Malle France, West Germany
The Legend of the Holy Drinker La leggenda del santo bevitore Ermanno Olmi Italy, France
A City of Sadness 悲情城市 Hou Hsiao-hsien Taiwan
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Tom Stoppard United Kingdom, United States
Close to Eden У́рга – территория любви Nikita Mikhalkov Soviet Union
The Story of Qiu Ju 秋菊打官司 Zhang Yimou China
Short Cuts Robert Altman United States
Three Colours: Blue Trois couleurs: Bleu Krzysztof Kieślowski France, Poland
Before the Rain Пред дождот Milčo Mančevski Macedonia
Vive L'Amour 愛情萬歲 Tsai Ming-liang Taiwan
Cyclo Xích lô Anh Hung Tran Vietnam, France
Michael Collins Neil Jordan Ireland, United Kingdom
Hana-bi はなび Takeshi Kitano Japan
The Way We Laughed Così ridevano Gianni Amelio Italy
Not One Less 一個都不能少 Zhang Yimou China
The Circle دایره Jafar Panahi Iran
Monsoon Wedding Mira Nair India
The Magdalene Sisters Peter Mullan Ireland, United Kingdom
The Return Возвращение Andrey Zvyagintsev Russia
Vera Drake Mike Leigh United Kingdom
Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee United States
Still Life 三峡好人 Jia Zhangke China
Lust, Caution 色,戒 Ang Lee Taiwan, China, United States
The Wrestler Darren Aronofsky United States
Lebanon לבנון Samuel Maoz Israel
Somewhere § Sofia Coppola United States
Faust § Alexander Sokurov Russia
Pietà 피에타 Kim Ki-duk South Korea
Sacro GRA Gianfranco Rosi Italy
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron Roy Andersson Sweden
From Afar Desde allá Lorenzo Vigas Venezuela
The Woman Who Left Ang Babaeng Humayo Lav Diaz Philippines
The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro United States
Roma Alfonso Cuarón Mexico
Joker Todd Phillips United States
Nomadland Chloé Zhao United States
Happening § L'Événement Audrey Diwan France
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed Laura Poitras United States
Poor Things Yorgos Lanthimos Ireland, United Kingdom, United States
§ Denotes unanimous win

Multiple Winners

Four directors have won the award twice:

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Main article: Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Marcello Mastroianni receiving the prize in 1990
Steven Spielberg receiving the prize from Gillo Pontecorvo in 1993
Martin Scorsese receiving the prize from Monica Vitti, 1995
Omar Sharif receiving the prize in 2003
Year Winner(s)
1970 Orson Welles
1971 Ingmar Bergman, Marcel Carné and John Ford
1972 Charlie Chaplin, Anatoli Golovnya and Billy Wilder
1982 Alessandro Blasetti, Luis Buñuel, Frank Capra, George Cukor, Jean-Luc Godard, Sergei Yutkevich, Alexander Kluge, Akira Kurosawa, Michael Powell, Satyajit Ray, King Vidor and Cesare Zavattini
1983 Michelangelo Antonioni
1985 Manoel de Oliveira, John Huston and Federico Fellini
1986 Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani
1987 Luigi Comencini and Joseph L. Mankiewicz
1988 Joris Ivens
1989 Robert Bresson
1990 Marcello Mastroianni and Miklós Jancsó
1991 Mario Monicelli and Gian Maria Volonté
1992 Jeanne Moreau, Francis Ford Coppola and Paolo Villaggio
1993 Steven Spielberg, Robert De Niro, Roman Polanski and Claudia Cardinale
1994 Al Pacino, Suso Cecchi d'Amico and Ken Loach
1995 Woody Allen, Monica Vitti, Martin Scorsese, Alberto Sordi, Ennio Morricone, Giuseppe De Santis, Goffredo Lombardo and Alain Resnais
1996 Robert Altman, Vittorio Gassman, Dustin Hoffman and Michèle Morgan
1997 Gérard Depardieu, Stanley Kubrick and Alida Valli
1998 Warren Beatty, Sophia Loren and Andrzej Wajda
1999 Jerry Lewis
2000 Clint Eastwood
2001 Éric Rohmer
2002 Dino Risi
2003 Dino De Laurentiis and Omar Sharif
2004 Stanley Donen and Manoel de Oliveira
2005 Hayao Miyazaki and Stefania Sandrelli
2006 David Lynch
2007 Tim Burton and Bernardo Bertolucci (for the last 75 years of the history of cinema)
2008 Ermanno Olmi
2009 John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
2010 John Woo
2011 Marco Bellocchio
2012 Francesco Rosi
2013 William Friedkin
2014 Thelma Schoonmaker and Frederick Wiseman
2015 Bertrand Tavernier
2016 Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jerzy Skolimowski
2017 Jane Fonda and Robert Redford
2018 David Cronenberg and Vanessa Redgrave
2019 Julie Andrews and Pedro Almodóvar
2020 Ann Hui and Tilda Swinton[18]
2021 Roberto Benigni and Jamie Lee Curtis
2022 Catherine Deneuve[19] and Paul Schrader[20]
2023 Liliana Cavani and Tony Leung Chiu-wai[21][22]
2024 Peter Weir[23]

See also


  1. ^ "25 Must-See Films That Won the Venice Film Festival". IndieWire. 2018. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  2. ^ "Biennale Cinema History of the Venice Film Festival: The Forties and Fifties". La Biennale di Venezia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  3. ^ "Biennale Cinema History of the Venice Film Festival: The Sixties and Seventies". La Biennale di Venezia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  4. ^ Donaldson, Kayleigh (September 11, 2019). "Joker's Insane Venice Film Festival Win Explained". Screen Rant. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  5. ^ Friedländer, Saul (2009-10-06). The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-198000-8.
  6. ^ Kahn, Lothar (1975). Insight and action : the life and work of Lion Feuchtwanger. Internet Archive. Rutherford, N.J. : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-1314-6.
  7. ^ Friedländer, Saul (2008). The years of extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 (First Harper Perennial ed.). New York London Toronto Sydney New Delhi Auckland: Harper Perennial. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-06-093048-6.
  8. ^ Kahn, Lothar (1975). Insight and action: the life and work of Lion Feuchtwanger. Rutherford, N.J: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-1314-6.
  9. ^ Etlin, Richard A. (15 October 2002). Art, culture, and media under the Third Reich. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-226-22087-1. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Golden Lions and major awards of the Venice Film Festival". Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  11. ^ "14. Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia". La Biennale di Venezia (in Italian). Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee. Archived from the original on September 17, 2018. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  12. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie (September 5, 2013). "Venice update: Kelly Reichardt's Night Moves, James Franco's Child of God, and more". LA Weekly. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  13. ^ Roos, Fred (Spring 1957). "Venice Film Festival, 1956" (PDF). The Quarterly of Film Radio and Television. 11 (3). University of California Press: 249. doi:10.2307/1209744. JSTOR 1209744. Retrieved April 5, 2020. The report began with a few sentences of praise for each of the 14 films [sic], and then selected the Japanese Harp of Burma and the Spanish Calle Mayor as being particularly outstanding. Since the jury was unable to decide which of these two films was the superior, it had decided not to award a grand prix "St. Mark Golden Lion" this year.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "30. Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia". La Biennale di Venezia (in Italian). Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee. Archived from the original on July 13, 2020. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c d "Venice Film Festival History 1932-2019: The 70s". La Biennale di Venezia. 7 December 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Post-war period: 1948 - 1973". La Biennale di Venezia. 12 April 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  17. ^ "Venice Film Fete in Quest of Glamour". The New York Times. August 28, 1979. Retrieved April 24, 2020. Carlo Lizzani, leftist director and the festival's new president, has not so far managed to restore the "Golden Lion" awards presented at Venice until 1968
  18. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (2020-07-20). "Venice Film Festival to Honor Tilda Swinton, Ann Hui With Golden Lions for Career Achievement". Variety. Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  19. ^ "Venezia 79. Leone d'oro alla carriera a Catherine Deneuve: "È una gioia"". La Repubblica. 1 June 2022. Retrieved 1 June 2022.
  20. ^ "Venezia Cinema: Leone d'Oro alla carriera a Paul Schrader". Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata. 4 May 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  21. ^ "A Liliana Cavani il Leone d'oro alla carriera dalla Mostra di Venezia". Corriere della Sera. 27 March 2023. Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  22. ^ "Biennale Cinema 2023 | Director Liliana Cavani and actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement". La Biennale di Venezia. 2023-03-27. Retrieved 2023-07-25.
  23. ^ "Peter Weir Leone d'Oro alla carriera della Biennale Cinema 2024". 9 May 2024. Retrieved 9 May 2024.