ROME (Reuters) - U.S. director Michael Mann will head the jury at this year's Venice film festival which runs from August 29-September 8, organizers said on Friday.
Best known for directing "The Last of the Mohicans", "Collateral", "Heat" and "Public Enemies", the 69-year-old film maker, scriptwriter and producer will preside over the panel which decides the main awards at the annual cinema showcase.
They include the coveted Golden Lion for best picture, which last year went to "Faust", directed by Russia's Alexander Sokurov.
A statement from the festival called Mann "a total film maker and one of the most influential and representative figures in contemporary American cinema."
Mann arrives at a time of transition for Venice, with incoming festival director Alberto Barbera promising a "more sober, less glitzy" event for its 69th edition this year.
Outgoing director Marco Mueller, who will now run the Rome international film festival, largely succeeded in blending low-budget, hard-hitting cinema from around the world with A-list Hollywood stars on the red carpet.
Both are vital ingredients to a film festival's survival in an increasingly competitive area, and Venice's job has been made harder by long-term construction projects at the site of the event and the fact that it overlaps with the Toronto festival.
Venice is launching a small film market this year to help it compete with Cannes and Berlin, where the buying and selling of titles is a key ingredient to their success.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)