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Venice Film Festival 2015: And the Award Goes to…

Closing out the 2015 Venice Film Festival, it's clear that we can't all be winners, but we can all be judges -- and then there's the judges who have the final say.

Now we really are all done. Finito, le fin, kaput. The awards ceremony for the 72nd Venice International Film Festival brought another year to a close with the usual collection of leftfield decisions. I swear festival juries, particularly in Venice, go out of their way to be controversial. But hey, at least it’s never dull.

Before we started, the Golden Lion seemed destined to be a fight between Alexander Sokurov’s Francofonia, Amos Gitai’s Rabin, the Last Day, Marco Bellocchio’s Blood of My Blood and Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s Anomalisa. In the end, only Anomalisa walked away with anything, picking up the Grand Jury Prize, essentially second place. The others headed home empty-handed as Alfonso Cuarón and his jury sent the Golden Lion to From Afar (Desde Allá), the first Venezuelan film to win the prize, and the first Venezuelan film to even compete for it.

From Afar, the debut feature from Lorenzo Vigas, is an intriguing film. Not wholly successful in building out the relationship between a middle-aged maker of dentures, and a younger street thug, it includes a superb performance from Alfredo Castro as the older man who pursues and then tries to pull away from his target when it all gets too real.

As good as the performance was, it didn’t win the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. Convention has it that films shouldn’t go winning multiple prizes. That didn’t seem to apply to courtroom drama/romance Courted (L’hermine) which picked up the acting award for Fabrice Luchini and Best Screenplay for writer/director Christian Vincent. Not my choice in either category but a likeable performance in a hugely likeable film, so you won’t hear me complaining.

The same cannot be said for the Volpi Cup for Best Actress, which inexplicably went to Valeria Golino for For Your Love (Per Amor Vostro). It’s a truly dreadful film, a horrible mash-up of styles that’s poorly written, histrionically acted and badly directed. To be fair to Golino, it’s not her fault. She can only work with what she has in front of her, which in this case is not much. The fest usually throws something to an Italian film, but why did it have to be this one?

Like its golden older sibling, the Silver Lion for Best Director also found its way to Latin America, Argentinian Pablo Trapero taking it for his slick kidnapping thriller The Clan. An enjoyable film, there was not enough to it to deserve such a big award, especially when I look at what missed out, although I was pleased Turkish thriller Frenzy grabbed the Special Jury Prize, mostly because it left me crippled by paranoia for ages afterwards.

Elsewhere, there was an incredibly deserved Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor for Abraham Attah as the child soldier in Beasts of No Nation, a brilliant performance that carries the film. The other newcomer prize, the Lion of the Future awarded for a Debut Film when to Brady Corbet’s The Childhood of a Leader. Sadly, I missed this, but from all accounts it’s an intense and idiosyncratic experience, even if reports are split on how successful it is.

Corbet also grabbed Best Director in the Orizzonti category in which his film competed, though Best Film there went to Free in Deed. Nothing for A War alas, despite Tobias Lindholm’s Afghan conflict drama being one of the very best I saw all week. But they’re not my awards, so I guess I can’t really complain. As for me, that brings another Venice Film Festival to a close and I must now reluctantly say goodbye. Until next year Venice.

Venezia 72 Awards

The Venezia 72 Jury, chaired by Alfonso Cuarón and comprised of Elizabeth Banks, Emmanuel Carrère, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Diane Kruger, Francesco Munzi, Pawel Pawlikowski and Lynne Ramsey having viewed all 21 films in competition, has decided as follows:

Golden Lion for Best Film to: From Afar (Desde Allá), by Lorenzo Vigas (Venezuela, Mexico)

Silver Lion for Best Director to: Pablo Trapero for El Clan (Argentina, Spain)

Grand Jury Prize to: Anomalisa by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson (USA)

Coppa Volpi for Best Actress: Valeria Golino in the film Per Amor Vostro by Giuseppe Gaudino (Italy)

Coppa Volpi for Best Actor: Fabrice Luchini in the film L ‘Hermine by Christian Vincent (France)

Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor to: Abraham Attah in the film Beasts of No Nation by Cary Joji Fukunaga (USA)

Award for Best Screenplay to: Christian Vincent for the film L ‘Hermine by Christian Vincent (France)

Special Jury Prize to: Frenzy (Abluka) by Emin Alper (Turkey, France, Qatar)

Lion of the Future: “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film Jury at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, chaired by Saverio Costanzo and comprised of Charles Burnett, Roger Garcia, Natacha Laurent and Daniela Michel, has decided to award: The Childhood of a Leader by Brady Corbet (United Kingdom, Hungary) (Orizzonti)

as well as a prize of $100,000(US), donated by Filmauro di Aurelio e Luigi De Laurentiis to be divided equally between director and producer

Orizzonti Awards

The Orizzonti Jury of the 72nd Venice Film Festival, chaired by Jonathan Demme and composed of Anita Caprioli, Fruit Chan, Alix Delaporte and Paz Vega having viewed the 34 films in competition has decided to award:

The Orizzonti Award for Best Film to: Free in Deed by Jake Mahaffy (USA, New Zealand)

The Orizzonti Award for Best Director to: Brady Corbet for The Childhood of a Leader by Brady Corbet (United Kingdom, Hungary)

The Special Orizzonti Jury Prize to: Neon Bull (Boi Neon) by Gabriel Mascaro (Brazil, Uruguay, The Netherlands)

The Special Orizzonti Award for Best Actor to: Dominique Lebornein the film Tempête by Samuel Collardey

The Orizzonti Award for Best Short Film to: Belladonna by Dubravka Turic (Croatia)

The Venice Short Film Nomination for the European Film Awards 2015 to: E.T.E.R.N.I.T. by Giovanni Aloi (France)

Venezia Classici Awards

The Venezia Classici Jury, chaired by Francesco Patierno composed of 25 students of Cinema History, chosen in particular from the teachers of 12 Italian Dams university programmes and from the Venice University of Ca’ Foscari, has decided to award:

The Venezia Classici Award for Best Documentary on Cinema to: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Maddin by Yves Montmayeur (France)

The Venezia Classici Award for Best Restored Film to: Salò o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1975, Italy, France)

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement 2015 to: Bertrand Tavernier

Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to The Filmmaker Award 2015 to: Brian De Palma

Persol Tribute Visionary Talent Award 2015 to: Jonathan Demme

L’oréal Paris per il Cinema Award to: Valentina Corti