Stephen Frears to be recognised with award at Venice Film Festival

Stephen Frears, the British director of "The Queen", "Philomena" and a string of other award-winning films, is to be honoured with a special prize at this year's Venice film festival.

Stephen Frears to be recognised with award at Venice Film Festival
British director Stephen Frears. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP

Frears, 76, will receive the Glory to the Filmmaker award on September 3, ahead of the world premiere of his latest production, “Victoria and Abdul”, organisers said on Thursday.

The award is given to individuals deemed to have made an original contribution to innovation in contemporary cinema. Previous winners include Al Pacino and Brian De Palma.

Frears's new film, starring Judi Dench as Britain's Queen Victoria, tells the true story of the monarch's unlikely and convention-shredding friendship with an Indian clerk at the end of the 19th century.

Bollywood actor Ali Fazal plays Abdul in what is being billed as a humorous exploration of race, religion and power at a time when the British Empire was at its peak and India was regarded as its “Jewel in the Crown”.

Festival Director Alberto Barbera said Frears was being feted for being “prolific and unpredictable, eclectic and provocative,” and for effortlessly navigating his way around styles, topics and genres.

“Along with Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, he is one of the most vibrant and representative exponents of contemporary British cinema,” Barbera said. 

“In his best movies he has the rare gift of creating a portrait of British society: sharp, caustic, unconventional, and simultaneously disturbing and amusing.”

The 74th edition of the Venice film festival runs from August 30 until September 9.

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