This year the annual Raimondo Rezzonico Award, which honours the lifetime achievement of a major producer, will be presented to the legendary Arnon Milchan, at the 65th edition du Festival del film Locarno which takes place 1 -11 August, 2012.
Born on December 6, 1944 in Israel, Arnon Milchan studied at Geneva University, and initially worked in commerce, transforming his family’s modest business into one of Israel’s biggest agro-chemical companies. He soon brought his formidable business acumen to bear on his real passions, film, theatre and television. His first productions in Europe included the stage production of Peter Schaffer’s Amadeus, with Roman Polanski (playing Mozart) alongside François Périer (as Salieri), Alain Corneau’s La Menace starring Yves Montand and Carole Laure (a French film shot in Canada), the excellent fantasy thriller The Medusa Touch, 1978, directed by Jack Gold with Richard Burton, Lino Ventura and Lee Remick, filmed in England, and the TV epic drama series Massada which was made in Israel.
The early 1980s saw Milchan become the most ambitious and interesting independent producer of the decade, producing several films, one after another, that were emblematic of the period, King of Comedy, (1983), one of Martin Scorsese’s best films, starring Jerry Lewis; Sergio Leone’s legendary masterpiece Once Upon a Time in America, (1984) which Milchan saved from disaster, enabling the Italian director to fulfil the greatest dream of his life, which had been thirty years in gestation – and was also to be his cinematic legacy; and in 1985 two British films that revived, with great visual brio, the genres of science-fiction and fantasy: Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (featuring Robert De Niro, who had also featured in Scorsese’s and Leone’s films) and Ridley Scott’s Legend (with Tom Cruise before he had become an international star).
These films were major artistic triumphs in Europe but failed to conquer the American box office.
Some years later Arnon Milchan remedied this situation when he moved to Hollywood and produced two major commercial hits, Danny De Vito’s War of the Roses starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner and Frank Marshall’s Pretty Woman with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, who the film made an international star. Following these successes Arnon Milchan created his own company, New Regency Productions, through which he was to produce over a hundred films, distributed by Warner Bros. and then Twentieth Century Fox, working with many of the most talented Hollywood directors and actors. Milchan has made successful films in many genres, from family film (Save Willy) to action movie (Under Siege), from romcoms (the films with Julia Roberts) to teen movies (with Martin Lawrence), but it is clear he has a predilection for films that boldly adress tough issues and stories, directed by filmmakers who are unafraid of controversy, in highly productive collaborations with Oliver Stone (JFK, Natural Born Killers, Heaven and Earth), Joel Schumacher (Falling Down, The Client, A Time to Kill, Tigerland), David Fincher (Fight Club) and Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain).
Arnon Milchan has produced numerous films starring Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Gere, as well as Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt…
Major American directors whose films he has produced include Sidney Lumet (Q & A), Blake Edwards (Switch), John Carpenter (Memoirs of an Invisible Man), Michael Mann (Heat), Michael Cimino (Sunchaser), Tony Scott (Man on Fire), Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox)…
One of Arnon Milchan’s most brilliant triumphs remains L.A. Confidential directed by Curtis Hanson, a successful adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel with an outstanding cast: Kim Basinger (Oscar for Best Supporting Actress), Danny De Vito, Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce…
Alongside film production, Arnon Milchan has continued to diversify and develop his company’s activities across various sectors in television, theatre and sport (Regency is one of the main shareholders in the sports brand Puma.)
Arnon Milchan is currently producing Darren Aronofsky’s ambitious new film taken from a Biblical story, Noah, featuring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly (whose career has been closely linked to the producer – she was discovered at the age of thirteen in her role as the young Deborah in Once Upon a time in America).
Leone’s masterpiece – indisputably one of the finest films in film history, opening the Cannes Festival in 1984 – will be screened in a newly restored version– with an additional twenty minutes that Leone had to cut from the original edit – in the “Cannes Classics” section of the Cannes Festival. The Festival del film Locarno will also show the film, introduced by Milchan himself, at the tribute we are holding in his honour, with two other early major productions, King of Comedy and Brazil.
The day after the Raimondo Rezzonico Award Ceremony on the Piazza Grande, Arnon Milchan will give a lecture on film that is open to the public.
We are delighted to welcome to Locarno one of the last moguls of world cinema, Arnon Milchan, a stage producer, lover of the arts and a visionary who can facilitate filmmakers in following their wildest dreams, a risk taker and a man of passion, whose courage, ambition and taste has helped create some of the most important masterpieces in contemporary cinema.