Venice Film Festival Introduces ‘Queer Lion’ Award


The top prize at the Venice Film Festival is called the Leone d’Oro (the Golden Lion). Now, after four years of negotiations, competition director Daniel Casagrande says the festival will award a “Queer Lion” to the best full-length film featuring a gay or lesbian character.

According to the BBC, “He has said he expects ‘around 10 or 12′ films to be candidates for the inaugural prize…Films entering the main competition are eligible for the award, as are other films being shown at the festival, which runs from 29 August to 8 September. A small international jury will select the winner, who will be presented with a gold plaque featuring the Venice Lion winged logo with the rainbow colours of the gay pride flag on the wings.”

Said Casagrande: “We aren’t looking for the next Brokeback Mountain. We are just looking for films that accurately portray gay characters or themes.”


  1. gr8guyca says

    I know that I should feel like this is a good thing, but somehow,
    I don’t. It feels like some sort of tokenism. It’s as if, in the 1960’s,
    they had created an award for the best Black portrayal in a movie.
    (“The winner: ‘To Sir, With Love’ and Sidney Poitier wins…again.”)
    Should there also be awards for positive portrayals of Asians
    and Hispanics, as well? Separating gay characters and movies
    from the mainstream isolates us, rather than unites us with others.
    I would rather see Ian McKellen win an award as a great actor
    in “Gods and Monsters”, than as a great gay character portrayal.

  2. Gregoire says

    I find this a stupid idea. Gay films have been in contention — and won — regular awards in this film festival. An award like this would have been interesting and encouraging 15 years ago. It becomes the ‘Best Animated Feature’ Oscar Syndrome now. Why give a gay film a top award when you can give it this one instead?

  3. says

    I think it’s a good idea. In fact there was (and still is) an award for the best portrayal by an African American in film (and television) and it’s called the NAACP Image award.

    I believe what the Venice Film Festival has done will highlight and promote more queer film, and that’s a good thing.

    But enough of what MadProfessah thinks, what does David Ehrenstein think?

  4. Ian33 says

    I think this is amazing news, particularly for very small queer pictures. We mustn’t forget that with the advent of gay TV channels and niche DVD distribution companies in Western countries, gay cinema has become increasingly about what pulls in TV audiences and sells DVDs, much more than boxoffice receipts, which are almost always negligible.

    Getting DVD distribution and TV deals means a number of talented, up-and-coming directors will be able to go on to make bigger, better produced films.

    Winning a Queer Lion will ensure that the film gets seen around the world and is widely available on DVD.

    The Berlinale and its Teddy jury has been doing this for many years but unlike its older Italian counterpart, the Teddy Award is NOT an official Berlinale prize, but is only associated with the fest. The Queer Lion will likely be given out on the same stage as the Golden Lion, which is absolutely incredible, given the world industrytes in attendance. The potential for exposure and networking with the crème de la crème are phenomenal.

    This means more great queer films will be seen and, subsequently, made, and that far outweighs, in my view, any potential perceptions of ghettoization.

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