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The milestone 70th annual Venice Film Festival is a wrap and the award-winners have been announced.
The surprise winner? That went to Gianfranco Rossi’s “Sacro GRA”, a vivid documentary about life on the ring-road highway that circles Rome. It was the first documentary in Venice Film Festival history ever to be awarded the Golden Lion. The film offers fly-on-the-tarmac vignettes of the lives of the people who live and work around its 42-mile circumference.
Rosi’s film offers a cross-section of contemporary Roman society which you might liken to a Fellini slice-of-life collage. The title is a pun on “Sacro Graal”, the Italian name for the Holy Grail.
The Grand Jury Prize – effectively the runner-up spot – went to Tsai Ming-liang’s mesmeric and challenging Stray Dogs, a glacially paced, an examination of the lives of a homeless family in Taipei.
While the Silver Lion award for best director was won by Alexandros Avranas for his father-from-hell drama Miss Violence, the latest in a wave of new Greek films about twisted family ties. Themis Panou, who played the thin-bearded patriarch in Avranas’s film, won the Volpi Cup for best actor.
Meanwhile, the seasoned Italian stage actress Elena Cotta was named best actress for her role as a stubborn elderly driver in Emma Dante’s A Street in Palermo.
Without doubt, Frears’ film was the most warmly received of the festival, and the jury chose to present it with the best screenplay award instead. The script, co-written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, turns what might have otherwise been a soppy tell of a mother searching for her adopted son into a smart and carefully balanced meditation on faith and pragmatism, and Coogan and Pope’s use of comedy to heighten the film’s emotional impact is expertly judged.
Did you participate in the 70th Film Festival? Which film in your opinion did deserve to win the Golden Lion?