News 2015

Opening Film and Saturnia Prize – SIC 30 Special Award: Orphans by Peter Mullan

To celebrate its 30th edition, the Venice International Film Critics’ Week (September 2-12, 2015) – an independent section of the Venice Film Festival – is glad to announce its guest of honour: director and actor Peter Mullan, who will receive the Saturnia Prize – SIC 30 Special Award. This prize (voted by the members of the Union of Italian Film Critics) recognizes the best debut feature film presented in the entire history of the Venice Film Critics’ Week.

Among all the debut films that have been presented in the section, Peter Mullan’s 1998 Orphans stood out in the critics’ poll. Already well known as an actor (winner of Golden Palm for Best Actor with Ken Loach’s My Name is Joe that same year), as first-time director Mullan – who will later become Golden Lion winner with The Magdalene Sisters (2002) – immediately won critical and audience acclaim. Marked by a distinctive black humour, the film is the merciless portrait of four siblings who get together in Glasgow to mourn the death of their mother. After more than fifteen years, Orphans will be shown again in Venice on Thursday, September 3rd (courtesy of Park Circus Limited) as the Special Opening Event of the 30th Venice International Film Critics’ Week. The film will astonish a new generation of cinephiles for its confidence in blending humour and drama, finding its best moments “when you don’t know if you should laugh or burst into tears”, as the director stated back in 1998. Peter Mullan will be in Venice to attend the screening and meet the audience and the press. 

Born in Glasgow in 1959, Peter Mullan begins acting at 10. Later, he became member of the Wildcat Theatre Company and started acting for the Glasgow Tron Theatre. His career in film and television includes roles in acclaimed works such as Ken Loach’s Riff-Raff and My Name is Joe, Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, Mike Figgis’ Miss Julie, Michael Winterbottom’s The Claim, David MacKenzie’s Young Adam, John Crowley’s Boy A, David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. He also acted in a number of film series including The Fear, Top of the Lake, and Olive Kitteridge. He directed several short films (including multiple award-winners such as Good Day for Bad Guys and Fridge) and three features: Orphans (1998), The Magdalene Sisters (2002, Venice Golden Lion winner) and Neds (2010, Best Film at the San Sebastian Film Festival). 

Besides Orphans, the critics’ top-five debuts are Olivier Assayas’s Disorder (1986), Pablo Trapero’s Crane World (1999), Abdellatif Kechiche’s Poetical Refugee (2000), and Andrea Molaioli’s The Girl By the Lake (2007). 

General Delegate Francesco Di Pace states: “We are proud to celebrate this very special birthday of the Venice International Film Critics’ Week with Peter Mullan and his astonishing debut film Orphans. Thirty years of passion, hard work, and big satisfactions where Critics’ Week has discovered a number of new auteurs who soon after became internationally acclaimed directors. I sincerely wish to thank all those people who have contributed to the success of the Venice Film Critics’ Week, the critics who served in the various selection committees and the general delegates who coordinated their work throughout the years”.

In the Press area Official Press Release is available for download.