The director's 'Black Swan' opened last year's festival, marking the beginning of what would end up being a successful Oscar campaign for lead Natalie Portman. The film earned five total nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Aronofsky. His film 'The Wrestler' captured the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion in 2008.
In its statement, the board called Aronofsky "a key figure in contemporary film, whose work constantly engages the evolution and mutations of the many languages of art."
The Venice Film Fest, along with festivals in Cannes, Toronto, New York and Sundance, is one of the larger film festivals and an important venue for drumming up Oscar buzz. Many directors, both established and buzz-inducing, premiere their films in Venice hoping to generate hype and (ideally) goodwill from critics before they are released stateside.