Venice: Alfonso Cuaron Wins Golden Lion for 'Roma'
10:15 AM PDT 9/8/2018 by Ariston Anderson
Cuaron previously conquered Venice after launching Gravity on the Lido in 2013, which went on to win seven Academy Awards.
Alfonso Cuaron is riding high in Venice once again, taking home the Golden Lion for his critically acclaimed Roma. The prize was given to him by jury president and friend Guillermo del Toro, who joked that he wasn't sure if he could pronounce his name. Cuaron previously conquered the Lido in 2013 with Gravity, with opened the festival out of competition, and went on to win seven Academy Awards.
The Three Amigos, as del Toro, Cuaron and Inarritu are known, are officially unstoppable at the Italian festival. Last year del Toro took home the Golden Lion for The Shape of Water before going on to win best picture at the Oscars. And Inarritu premiered Birdman in Venice in 2014 before going on to win best picture. Inarritu, who has been in the Venice competition lineup twice, is now the lone amigo without a Lion.
Roma, co-produced by Participant Media andEsperanto Filmoj, is a semi-autobiographical black-and-white film on his early upbringing in 1970s Mexico City, seen through the eyes of his housekeeper Cleo. While Netflix has not yet committed to a theatrical release before it hits the streamer, this prize will certainly put weight behind an Oscar campaign for the film.
Fox Searchlight also has a serious Oscar contender on its hands with grand jury prize winner, Yorgos Lanthimos' The Favourite, a period drama about the politic and romantic inner workings of a royal court. Olivia Colman also won the Volpi Cup for best actress for her incredible turn as Queen Anne in the film.
And Willem Dafoe won the Volpi Cup for best actor for taking on the role of tormented artist Vincent van Gogh in Julien Schnabel's non-traditional biopic At Eternity's Gate, which is also getting a lot of Oscar buzz for Dafoe in what many critics are calling the role of his career.
Joel and Ethan Coen won best screenplay for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Tim Blake Nelson accepted the award on their behalf, calling them in addition to great filmmakers, "two of the most decent and generous people I know."
Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, the only female-directed film in competition, took home the special jury prize.It stars Aisling Franciosi as a young Irish convict who hunts the man who wronged her with the help of an aboriginal tracker played by Baykali Ganambarr.
"I would also like to say to all those women out there wanting to make films, please go and do it. We need you. The feminine force is the most powerful and healing force on the planet," said Kent on accepting the award. "I'm confident next year and the year after we'll see more and more women inhabiting this space."
Ganambarr also won the Marcello Mastroianni actor award for best new talent and thanked the film "for not sugarcoating our past."
"It is only through confronting pain," he said, "that we heal the hurt."
While prior juries have often highlight films that may not receive much love after their festival circuit, the lineup this year was weighted with Oscar favorites, so it's no surprise that the winners aligned with critical favorites. Among Italian and foreign press, the best reviewed film of the festival was Roma (Alfonso Cuaron), followed by The Sisters Brothers(Jacques Audiard) and The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos). The Mountain (Rick Alverson) received the lowest average reviewed score among critics.
Venice also held its second-ever VR jury this year, led by Susanne Bier. While other festivals are quickly establish VR competitions, Venice was one of the first to make a large investment into the medium, and the technology from the first year to the second is already progressing in leaps and bounds.
Best VR film, Spheres, an experience that takes viewers into outer space to explore the sounds of the cosmos is the first VR film acquired at a festival in a seven-figure deal. “In Virtual Reality the possibilities of storytelling are infinite, like the darkest edges of the Universe,” Spheres creator McNitt told THR after receiving her award. “This is just the beginning of the possibilities this new form of storytelling offers.”
The world's oldest film fest concluded its 75th anniversary edition not without controversy.
After Cannes had shut out Netflix this year, Venice debuted a record six titles from the streamer, with three in the main competition and one in Horizons. Italian exhibitors were less than thrilled with the move, and the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE) issued a strongly worded letter to the festival to reserve competition slots for films that will be exhibited in cinemas internationally, rather than simultaneously released in 190 countries.
But the larger controversy was once again festival chief Alberto Barbera choosing only one film directed by a woman, The Nightingale by Jennifer Kent in competition, after being widely criticized last year for making the same decision. Barbera maintained that quality was his only factor in choosing films, but topic came up throughout the festival, including by del Toro and Sisters Brothers director Jacques Audiard who made pleas for diversity, and by media who questioned if there might be an unspoken bias in the way films were chosen this year.
Venice chiefs signed a festival charter for gender parity, but did so only after making a big show of saying that it was barely necessary as they already hire a majority of women and are open about their submissions and selection panels. They committed to holding a panel at the festival next year to analyze data, but doubled down on the idea that the problem lies more with problems of access to filmmakers, without addressing any kind of unconscious bias. Sexist incidents including a man wearing a "Weinstein is Innocent" T-shirt being allowed to walk the Suspiria red carpet for paparazzi and a blogger yelling misogynist obscenities during the a press screening of Kent's film did not help the festival making its case as a welcome ground for women.
The full list of winners is below.
Venice 75 Awards
Golden Lion: Roma, dir. Alfonso Cuaron Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize: The Favourite, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos Silver Lion Best Director: The Sisters Brothers, dir. Jacques Audiard Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Olivia Colman in The Favourite, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos Volpi Cup for Best Actor: Willem Dafoe in At Eternity's Gate, dir. Julien Schnabel Best Screenplay Award: Joel & Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Special Jury Prize: The Nightingale, dir. Jennifer Kent Marcello Mastroianni Award: Baykali Ganambarr for The Nightingale, dir. Jennifer Kent
Best Film: Kraben Rahu, dir Phuttiphong Aroonpheng Best Director: Ozen, dir. Emir Baigazin Special Jury Prize: Anons, dir. Mahmut Fazil Coskun Best Actress: Natalya Kudryashova, The Man Who Surprised Everyone, dir. Aleksey Chupoy, Natalya Merkuloya Best Actor: Kais Nashif for Tel Aviv on Fire, dir. Sameh Zoabi Best Screenplay: Jinpa, written and dir. Pema Tseden
Lion of the Future
Lion of the Future Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film: The Day I Lost My Shadow, dir. Soudade Kaadan
Best Documentary on Cinema: The Great Buster: A Celebration, dir. Peter Bogdanovich Best Restored Film: The Night of the Shooting Stars, dir. Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
Best VR Film: Spheres, dir. Eliza McNitt Best VR Experience Award: Buddy VR, dir. Chuck Chae Best VR Story Award: I'iIe des morts, dir. Benjamin Nuel