Willem Dafoe to Be Given Lifetime Achievement Award

The Toronto International Film Festival gets plenty of media coverage in the United States, but in Europe Germany’s Berlin Film Festival (BFF) is equally recognized. While announcing the names of the competition jury for the various awards, the festival also announced that it would be presenting a lifetime achievement award to actor Willem Dafoe. Dafoe has already been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The Berlin award is the Honorary Golden Bear. Dafoe has been active in the Berlin festival for a number of years, serving as an international judge back in 2007 and was said to be “a close friend of the festival” by festival director Dieter Kosslick who says he is looking forward to honoring him at the BFF. Held on February 15th through the 25th, it is formally called The 68th Berlin International Film Festival.

For those not familiar with Dafoe’s work, he was a central figure in the Vietnam War classic Platoon and followed that with another movie with a serious social justice context Mississippi Burning which replayed the murder of three civil rights workers in the 1960’s. With Gene Hackman as a supporting actor, the story is told with a style that has you wondering how to resolve social justice questions rather than simply recount American history. Another of his more prominent roles was in the religious movie The Last Temptation of Christ.

He gives some advice to the young and upcoming actors who are looking to be a star rather than an actor. “If you don’t conventionally look a certain way and you’ve got a certain kind of presence when you’re young, then what’s available to you is character roles and the best character roles when you’re young tend to be villains.” From the voice of experience, Dafoe explains many times why villains that we like as bad guys are rarely seen in starring roles in Hollywood. It is a role he has willingly accepted and has been one of the best for many decades. For example, though he did get top billing in Mississippi Burning most people who watch the movie remember Gene Hackman.

How can Willem Dafoe’s personality be described? Well, you can choose between impulsive and practical based on his 2005 proposal and marriage to Giada Colagrande in 2005, a year after his only divorce. “We were having lunch and I said: ‘Do you want to get married tomorrow?'” Avoiding the media they got married the next day in the presence of two friends. Colagrande is 20 years his junior, and is of Italian citizenship and has her own professional resume, including actress, screenwriter, and director. Dafoe now holds both American and Italian citizenships.

In other BFF notes, the festival has decided to recognize the importance of women’s rights and sexual harassment in the workplace started by the #metoo movement in America, and will be holding a series of panels discussing the various issues. In a formal announcement, a united festival said, “The Berlinale is firmly committed to the struggle for sexual self-determination and against any and all forms of abuse.”

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