Under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic of Italy, with the patronage of the Italian Prime Minister, the Italian Minister for Culture, the Sardinia Region and with the support of the Italian Motion Picture Association (ANICA), the Italian Performing Arts Association (AGIS), the Italian Film Producers Association (UNPF), the Italian Union of Motion Picture Critics (SNCCI), the “RUDOLPH VALENTINO AWARD” is - after thirty-nine years - a serious and prestigious lifetime achievement award for leading figures in international Cinema.
Established in 1972, the awards ceremony was held until 1981 in Puglia, Valentino's birthplace. In its tenth year, 1982, the ceremony moved to Los Angeles, where it was held until 1995. In 1996 it returned to Europe with editions in Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid and Rome. 2001 saw the ceremony held in San Paolo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Since the XXIX edition the ceremony has always taken place in Italy.
An international jury of cinema critics assigns the award each year to an actress, an actor and a director who, through their talent and their charisma have, like Valentino, reached the pinnacle of international celebrity.
The award, as specified in the rules, honours great cinema characters, those which are created for the public by an actor or actress and for the latter by the director in a given film. In giving the award the jury strives to choose the most outstanding characters, using as a yardstick for talent, charisma and glamour Valentino himself after whom the award is named.
The awards ceremony in the shadow of Rudy is always an occasion to reopen the debate on celebrity worship. A phenomenon that many would wish to see the end of but which has only grown and changed in its appearance. The Hollywood star system might be dead but the star and the celebrity continue to exist even without the extravagant frills of a bygone age never to return. The fascination that characters exert on the general public must be analysed and studied without any preconceived notions because it is an arm that can be used not solely for commercial and industrial purposes but also for artistic and ideological ends.
It is no coincidence that the memory of the true stars of the cinema has remained intact, clearly confirming that the interest in celebrity is not just a foolish infatuation of our times. Seeing the stars of the past in their films today, one marvels at how good they were. Valentino is no exception, he is excellent even if his acting style might seem dated.
In any case, it is enough to glance at the list of those who have received the award. Stars? Celebrities? In reality, there is not one of them who is not also an actor, actress or director with extraordinary expressive talent gushing out of an exceptional character. And they are all deserving of our admiration and gratitude because without celebrities, stars and characters there would be no cinema to speak of.
Among those who have personally - as the rules require - received the "Valentino" statuette sculpted by Aurelio Mortet are, between the other: Pedro Almodovar, Robert Altman, Dario Argento, Alan Arkin, Lauren Bacall, Luis Bacalov, Antonio Banderas, Marco Bellocchio, Ingrid Bergman, Bernardo Bertolucci, Juliette Binoche, Richard Burton, André Cajatte, Claudia Cardinale, Sean Connery, Francis Ford Coppola, Bette Davis, Alain Delon, Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Dillon, Richard Dreyfuss, Faye Dunaway, Andy Garcia, Glenn Ford, Vittorio Gassman, Rita Hayworth, Charlton Heston, Isabelle Huppert, Jeremy Irons, Quincy Jones, Grace Kelly, Claude Lelouch, Virna Lisi, Sergio Leone, Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, James Mason, Marcello Mastroianni, Liza Minnelli, Helen Mirren, Robert Mitchum, Jeanne Moreau, Fernanda Motenegro, Philippe Noiret, Ferzan Ozpetek, Irene Papas, Marisa Paredes, Gregory Peck, Roman Polanski, Anthony Quinn, Carlos Saura, Martin Scorsese, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Meryl Streep, Elizabeth Taylor, Liv Ullman, Peter Ustinov, Raquel Welch, Jane Wyman, Franco Zeffirelli.