The Volpi Cup (Italian: Coppa Volpi) is the principal award given to actors at the Venice Film Festival and is named in honor of Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, the founder of the Venice Film Festival. The name and number of prizes have been changed several times since their introduction, ranging from two to four awards per edition and sometimes acknowledging both leading and supporting performances.
The festival was officially competitive for the first time in 1934. The acting awards were named Grande medaglia d'oro dell'Associazione Nazionale Fascista dello Spettacolo per il migliore attore (Great Gold Medal of the National Fascist Association for Entertainment for the Best Actor) and Grande medaglia d'oro dell'Associazione Nazionale Fascista dello Spettacolo per la migliore attrice (Great Gold Medal of the National Fascist Association for Entertainment for the Best Actress).
After a four-year hiatus caused by the war, the festival was once again competitive in 1947. The acting awards in the immediate post-war period were named Premio Internazionale per il migliore attore (International Award for the Best Actor) and Premio Internazionale per la migliore attrice (International Award for the Best Actress).
Valeria Golino holding her Best Actress award at the closing ceremony of the Venice Film Festival in 1986
The festival was again competitive in 1980 but the acting awards given by the competition jury were not reinstated until 1983: the prizes were no longer called Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup) but were simply referred to as Premio per il migliore attore (Best Actor Award) and Premio per la migliore attrice (Best Actress Award). Indeed, the winners did not receive cup-shaped awards but were instead given rectangular plaques.
Jack Lemmon holding his Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the closing ceremony of the Venice Film Festival in 1992
In 1988, for the first time in 20 years, the most recognizable prizes of the festival were reestablished. The two acting awards were officially named Coppa Volpi per la migliore interpretazione maschile (Volpi Cup for the Best Actor) and Coppa Volpi per la migliore interpretazione femminile (Volpi Cup for the Best Actress).
Gillo Pontecorvo, the artistic director of the festival's 1993 edition, decided that the number of Volpi Cups should be doubled: the new prizes would acknowledge the performances by actors and actresses in supporting roles and were officially named Coppa Volpi per il migliore attore non protagonista (Volpi Cup for the Best Supporting Actor) and Coppa Volpi per la migliore attrice non protagonista (Volpi Cup for the Best Supporting Actress).
Two years later, Pontecorvo chose to dismiss several prizes such as the Silver Lion and one of the Volpi Cups. Starting from 1995, only three acting awards were given by the jury: one for an actor in a leading roles, one for an actress in a leading role and one for an actor or actress in a supporting role.
^"Katharine Hepburn received the Gold Medal for the Best Female Performance at the Venice Film Festival.""I divertimenti". La Stampa. 5 December 1934. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
^"The jury of the international film festival, having acknowledged that the foreign jury members, who are living abroad, are still preventing a reunion from taking place, has decided not to award the international prizes.""La Coppa Mussolini al film Abuna Messias". La Stampa. 15 October 1939. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
^"The Venice Film Festival will award Ingrid Bergman posthumously today for a movie made 40 years ago. Bergman's son, Roberto Rossellini, will accept the Volpi Cup for his mother's performance in a film called The Greatest Love in America and Europa '51 in Europe. Judges said Bergman was denied the award at the time because her voice was dubbed from Swedish into Italian.""Bergman's Son To Accept Honor For Mom". Orlando Sentinel. 12 September 1992. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
^"Judges at Venice's world film festival which ended last week just could not pick a best actress. [...] 'We didn't think any of them merited the Count Volpi cup,' a festival spokesman said today.""Judges at Festival Can't Find Actress". Spokane Daily Chronicle. 12 September 1955. Retrieved 2013-12-29.