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Venice film festival picks director Guillermo del Toro to head jury, with his latest movie The Shape of Water an awards season favourite

Mexican filmmaker has ‘a passion for the kind of cinema that can spark emotions’, Italian festival’s director says in announcing his choice as jury chairman

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018, 11:21am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018, 11:21am

Guillermo del Toro, whose latest film, The Shape of Water, is tipped to win big at the Oscars in March, will chair this year’s Venice Film Festival jury, organisers have announced.

“Venice is a window to world cinema and the opportunity to celebrate its power and cultural relevance,” the Mexican director said.

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The Shape of Water, a cold-war-set story of love between a mute cleaning woman and a mystery merman-like creature, has once again propelled the filmmaker into the Hollywood limelight.

The fantasy romance won the 53-year-old the best director award at the Golden Globes and has earned 13 Oscar nominations, one shy of the record held by 2017’s La La Land , All About Eve in 1950 and 1997’s Titanic.

It also scooped the top prize, the prestigious Golden Lion, at last year’s Venice festival.

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“Guillermo Del Toro personifies generosity … a passion for the kind of cinema that can spark emotions, affect people and, at the same time, make them reflect,” said festival director Alberto Barbera.

Throughout his career, Del Toro has alternated between big-budget Hollywood productions such as Blade II and more personal Spanish-language projects. In 2006, he received critical acclaim for his dark fantasy film Pan’s Labyrinth, which won three Oscars.

The film festival will light up the Italian city’s Biennale with international stars from August 29 to September 8.