VENICE WATCH: Scorsese editor Schoonmaker honored; surreal Swedish 'Pigeon' wows crowd

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: September 2, 2014 - 10:50 AM

VENICE, Italy — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press.



The Venice Film Festival celebrated what has been called the "hidden art" of film editing on Tuesday, bestowing a Golden Lion for career achievement on Martin Scorsese's longtime collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker.

Schoonmaker, who has edited all Scorsese's films since "Raging Bull" in 1980, credited the director for her success — "He taught me everything I know."

She said it was "the most amazing luck" that she'd meet Scorsese at New York University after being thwarted in her original aim of becoming a U.S. diplomat.

"They said I was way too liberal and would be very unhappy in the foreign service," Schoonmaker said.

She said her early work on documentaries — including Scorsese's "Woodstock" — gave her the skills to edit the improvisations Scorsese draws from his actors, most recently in "The Wolf of Wall Street."

"It was wonderful when Marty realized that Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill and Leo (DiCaprio) could improvise," she said. "He just let them fly. And so I had tons of wonderful improvisation I had to shape."

She and Scorsese remain one of the most productive partnerships in the movies. Schoonmaker said their next project will be "so different from 'Wolf of Wall Street' you can't imagine."

—By Jill Lawless,



The title was enough to get people talking, and "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence" has become one of the hits of the Venice Film Festival.

Swedish director Roy Andersson's film is a series of surreal, bleakly comic vignettes that mix the mundane with deadpan humor and unthinking cruelty. Wandering through the film are two sad-sacks who sell vampire teeth and other jokey novelties. They're the least jolly salesmen imaginable, and no one is buying.

The movie had audience members laughing and scratching their heads in equal measure Tuesday. The Guardian newspaper called it "a glorious metaphysical burlesque," while the Daily Telegraph called Andersson's work "sublime, ridiculous" and untranslatable.

Andersson said he wanted to explore the cruelty humans are able to inflict on one another, and how it persists down the ages. The movie is set in a drab corner of modern Sweden, but the country's 18th-century King Charles XII and his army burst into proceedings.

"I hope that people can see that daily life can also be poetic even when it's banal," Andersson said. "That's my ambition — that banal life can also be poetic."

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