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Audrey Diwan’s 1960s abortion drama “L’Evenement” (“Happening”) won the Golden Lion at the 78th Venice International Film Festival, while second place went to the semi-autobiographical ” The hand of God “by Paolo Sorrentino.
Diwan’s film about a French college student who encounters an unwanted pregnancy was the unanimous choice of the prestigious jury that included recent Oscar winners Bong Joon Ho and Chloé Zhao.
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This year’s competition was solid, including well-received films like “The Power of the Dog” by Jane Campion, “Parallel Mothers” by Pedro Almodóvar, “The Lost Daughter” by Maggie Gyllenhaal and “The Hand of God”. Twenty-one films were vying for the award, which has become a promising early indicator of a film’s prospects for the Oscars.
“I made this movie out of anger. I made the movie with enthusiasm too. I did it with my belly, my guts, my heart, my head, ”Diwan said Saturday. “I wanted ‘Happening’ to be an experience.”
Diwan is the sixth woman to have directed a Golden Lion winning film. Others include Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), Margarethe Von Trotta (“Marianne & Juliane”), Agnès Varda (“Vagabond”), Mira Nair (” Monsoon Wedding “) and Sofia Coppola (” Somewhere “).
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Sorrentino’s “The hand of God,” based on a formative personal tragedy, it took Silver while Campion won the Silver Lion for Best Director for his period epic “The Power of His Dog.” It is the second time he has won a second place in Venice. The first was in 1990 for “An Angel at My Table,” a Janet Frame biopic.
“It’s amazing to receive an award from you,” Campion said, speaking to the jury next to him. “You’ve set the bar for me very, very high at the movies, Bong, Chloé.”
Penelope Cruz won the Volpi Cup for best actress for her portrayal of a new mother in Almodóvar’s “Parallel Mothers”. He thanked his director and regular collaborator for “Inspiring me every day with your search for the truth.”
“You have created magic again and I couldn’t be more grateful or proud to be a part of it,” Cruz continued. “I adore you.”
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Gyllenhaal won the best screenplay award for her adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s 2008 novel “The Lost Daughter,” which is both her first screenplay and her first film as a director.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here,” Gyllenhaal said. “I got married in Italy, in Puglia. I found out that I was pregnant with my second daughter in Italy. And really my life as a director and writer and my film was born here in this theater. “
Gyllenhaal said her film is “Italian in its bones” even though it was filmed in Greece and in English.
“In a way, as women, we were born into an agreement to be silent and Ferrante broke that agreement,” Gyllenhaal said. “I had the same feeling watching ‘The Piano’ when I was in high school.”
John Arcilla was awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for “On The Job: The Missing 8.”
The festival has reestablished itself in the last decade as the pre-eminent launching pad for award hopefuls. Zhao’s “Nomadland” won the award last year and won Oscars for best picture, best director and best actor. In addition to Zhao and Bong, who served as president, the jury also included actors Sarah Gadon and Cynthia Erivo and directors Saverio Costanzo (“My Brilliant Friend”) and Alexander Nanau (“Collective”).
Zhao’s career was the second time in four years that the winner of the Golden Lion won the best picture. Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” shared a similar path. The 2019 Venice winner “Joker” simply garnered 10 Oscar nominations, including one for best picture.
However, not winning the top prize in Venice does not end an Oscars campaign before it begins. Many eventual winners simply premiered at the festival, and not always even in the competition before winning Best Picture (“Birdman” and “Spotlight”) or Best Director (Damien Chazelle for “La La Land,” Alfonso Cuarón for “Gravity. “and” Roma “, del Toro for” The shape of water “and Alejandro G. Iñarritu for” Birdman “).
In the Horizons section, which highlights emerging filmmakers, Laurynas Bareisa’s “Pilgrims” won best film. The actor award went to Piseth Chhun for “White Building” and the actress to Laure Calamy for “A plein temps,” which also won best director for Eric Gravel.
The awards ceremony closes the first major film festival of the fall season which so far appears to be a resounding success, despite the delta variant. The COVID security protocols were strict and the films solid.
But Venice also successfully brought glamor to a red carpet that may have been less crowded than usual, but offset in viral moments, from a tender, teasing hug between co-stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain to Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s red carpet debut – though perhaps it should be called a debut remake as the two rekindled a romance that ended 18 years ago.