From the timed standing ovations to the red carpet glamour to the on-off drama behind-the-scenes at the premiere of Don’t Worry Darling, the 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival came to a fitting close with the awards ceremony in the Sala Grande at the Palazzo del Cinema. A Venice premiere, and add to that, an award from the festival holds significant value, as it boosts the film towards potential Oscar nominations. Take note of how three of last year’s Best Actress nominees at the Academy Awards — Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, and Kristen Stewart — had the world premiere of their respective films at Venice. Birdman, The Shape of Water and Nomadland are some of the recent titles that won the Golden Lion as well as the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The president of the main competition jury was actress Julianne Moore, and which also comprised Audrey Diwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Mariano Cohn, Leila Hatami, Leonardo di Costanzo and Rodrigo Sorogoyen. The ceremony was hosted by Spanish actress Rocio Munoz Morales. Here are the highlights.
All the Beauty and Bloodshed
Documentary won big: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, directed by Laura Poitras, was chosen for the biggest award of the night — the Golden Lion — among 22 titles in the main competition slot. This is the second time a documentary has won the Golden Lion, Gianfranco Rosi’s 2013 film Sacro GRA being the first. “I need to thank the festival, first and foremost, for understanding that documentary is cinema,” said Poitras, whose film traced photographer-artist Nan Goldin and her activism to hold the Sacklers accountable for the opiod addiction crisis. Poitras’ win also marks the third consecutive win for a film directed by a woman, after Audrey Diwan’s Happening (2021) and Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland (2020).
Support for Jafar Panahi at the Venice Film Festival
Iran Scores High: Two Iranian films won three awards at the closing ceremony. Director Jafar Panahi, one of the most celebrated film-makers in the world, sentenced to six years in prison in June, premiered his docu feature, No Bears. Played in the competition section, it took home the Special Jury Prize. The other two wins were for World War III, directed by Houman Seyyedi, that won Best Film in the horizons section and Best Actor for Mohsen Tanabandeh.
Cate Blanchett in TAR
The Volpi Cups: The acting award at Venice is known as the Volpi Cup. Cate Blanchett, who wowed Venice with her turn as a fictional opera conductor in Todd Field’s TÁR, won the best actress Volpi Cup. This win leads Blanchett into the company of actresses who have won the award twice, alongside Shirley MacLaine, Isabelle Huppert and Valeria Golino. Blanchett had first won for playing Bob Dylan in the 2007 film I’m Not There.
Meanwhile, the Best Actor Volpi Cup was awarded to Colin Farrell for playing a man desperately trying to win back his longtime friend in Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. Farrell who joined in through a live video call exclaimed: “I’m shocked to get this and thrilled,” and said that he would share the award with his friend and co-star Brendan Gleeson. The Banshees of Inisherin also picked up Best Screenplay for McDonagh (his second win in the category after Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).
Timothee Chalamet at the Venice premiere of Bones and All
Honour roll: “Viva la cinema!” exclaimed Italian director Luca Guadagnino (best known for Call Me By Your Name) who took home the Best Director award — the Silver Lion — for Bones and All, a coming-of-age tale of two cannibals, that reunites him with actor Timothee Chalamet. In addition, his leading lady Taylor Russell was awarded the Best Young Performance, known as the Marcello Mastroianni Award. The other film that won big was Saint Omer, a French language courtroom drama, directed by Alice Diop, that scooped up both the Grand Jury Prize and the Lion of the Future award for Best Debut Feature.