The world’s oldest celebration of cinema moves into the 21st century this year with the announcement that for the first time there will be a gay award.

The Venice Film Festival, which was first held in 1932, has approved The Queer Lion award after four years of negotiations.

The award will go to a feature-length film in the competition, or any of the 35 or so ‘sidebar’screenings, that has a gay character or theme.

“We aren’t looking for the next Brokeback Mountain,” competition director Daniel Casagrande told The Hollywood Reporter.

“We are just looking for films that accurately portray gay characters or themes.”

This year’s festival, the 64th, will take place from August 29th to September 8th.

22 films will compete for the main prize, the Golden Lion for best film, which was won by Brokeback Mountain in 2005.

Mr Casagrande expects up to a dozen movies will be eligible for the gay award, which will consist of a golden plaque with the Festival’s Lion logo with rainbow flag colours on its wings.

Other main prizes awarded include the Volpi Cups for Best Actor and Actress, won last year by Ben Affleck for Hollywoodland, and Helen Mirren for The Queen, and the Silver Lion award for Best Director, which went to Alain Resnais for Coeur in 2006.