From Francis Ford Coppola's films The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, to his collaboration with Gus Van Sant on Drugstore Cowboy, for which he won an Independent Spirit Award in 1990, and To Die For (1995), which he screened with the director in Locarno in 1995, Matt Dillon's path has been punctuated by titles such as Singles (Cameron Crowe, 1992), Crash (Paul Haggis, 2004), for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and won his second Independent Spirit Award, but also Factotum (Bent Hamer, 2005), The House That Jack Built (Lars von Trier, 2018) and the short film Nimic (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2019), which was presented at Locarno72.
In 2021, Dillon was featured in Shirin Neshat's film Land of Dreams, which the Iranian artist and filmmaker co-directed with her partner Shoja Azari. The film world premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where the previous year Dillon had also replaced Romanian director Cristi Puiu on Cate Blanchett's Competition jury.
This year, Dillon fever continues as the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Locarno Film Festival's tribute to film personalities with extraordinary careers, will be given to the U.S. actor. The award ceremony on Thursday, August 4 in Piazza Grande will be accompanied by screenings of Drugstore Cowboy (Gus Van Sant, 1989) and City of Ghosts (Matt Dillon, 2002), and a Q&A with the audience on Friday, August 5 at the Forum @Spazio Cinema.
Back in the day, Dillon was a teen idol, someone often featured on 80's teen magazine Tiger Beat alongside Ralph Macchio, Scott Baio and Rob Lowe. But to Dillon's credit, he grew into his good looks, buckled in for the long ride and became a certified, tried and true, grown up star, and a filmmaker too. In fact, in 2002 Dillon made his directorial debut with City of Ghosts (2002), written with Barry Gifford, in which he starred opposite James Caan, Gérard Depardieu, Stellan Skarsgård, and Natascha McElhone.
"The Locarno Film Festival decided to award the Lifetime Achievement Award, the prize dedicated to extraordinary film careers, to an actor whose unique journey as an artist always led in the direction of freedom and curiosity," as the press release announcing the prize read.
Giona A. Nazzaro, Artistic Director of Locarno said: "Matt Dillon embodies with supreme freedom an idea of the American artist and cinema that we deeply love. The restlessness of youth and the freedom of maturity. A performer who has built lasting, transgenerational success without ever shying away from exploring new challenges and languages. An astounding actor and director, Dillon represents the best of an idea of American cinema born in the 1970s while celebrating the courage of unconventional choices. We are honored to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Locarno Film Festival with him."
On the occasion of the award, presented to Dillon on the evening of Thursday, August 4 on the Piazza Grande, two titles revealing the eclecticism of the actor and director will be shown, the 1989 title Drugstore Cowboy by Gus Van Sant, and Dillon's own 2002 title City of Ghosts -- both presented in the Festival's section Histoire(s) du cinéma.
The award, which was formerly called the Locarno Leopard Club Award for lifetime achievement, has been presented to film legends such as Harrison Ford (2011), Alain Delon (2012), Harvey Keitel (2016), Meg Ryan (2018) and Dario Argento in 2021.
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Header photo of Matt Dillor by © Tom Munro, used with permission of Locarno Festival.