Todd Phillips’ Joker, anchored by Joaquin Phoenix’s career defining role (it seems) has taken out the top prize at the recently concluded Venice Film Festival.
Phillips thanked Warner Bros. and DC “for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this movie.” He also thanked Phoenix who joined him on the stage when accepting the award. “There is no movie without Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin is the fiercest and brightest and most open-minded lion I know. Thank you for trusting me with your insane talent.”
The two most recent winners of the Golden Lion have been significant global arthouse hits and major Oscar contenders, Roma last year and The Shape of Water the year before.
Other Venice awards went to Roman Polanski’s French production An Officer and a Spy, based on the Robert Harris novel about The Dreyfus Affair, which took out the Silver Lion, while Roy Andersson won Best Director for About Endlessness. Best Actress went to French veteran Ariane Ascaride for Gloria Mundi, whilst Luca Marinelli won Best Actor for the Italian/French co-production Martin Eden, based on the Jack London novel of the same name. Hong Kong animated film No. 7 Cherry Lane won Best Screenplay (Yofan), the Special Jury Prize went to The Mafia is No Longer What it Used to Be by Franco Maresco, whilst the Marcello Mastroianni Award went to an Australian for the second year running, to Toby Wallace for Babyteeth following last year’s win for Baykali Ganambarr for The Nightingale.
The Nightingale‘s shadow loomed large, in fact, with the film’s director Jennifer Kent scheduled to be a part of the jury but unable to take part (presumably due to her film’s release in cinemas), replaced by Mary Harron at the last hour. The jury was headed by Lucrecia Martel, who was joined by Piers Handling, Stacy Martin, Rodrigo Prieto, Tsukamoto Shinya, Paolo Virzi and Harron.
Other awards handed out include:
Best Film: Atlantis, dir: Valentyn Vasyanovych
Best Director: Blanco en Blanco, dir: Theo Court
Special Jury Prize: Verdict, dir: Raymund Ribay Gutierrez
Best Actress: Marta Nieto, Madre
Best Actor: Sami Bouajila, A Son
Best Screenplay: Revenir, dir: Jessica Palud, written by Jessica Palud, Philippe Lioret, Diasteme
Lion of the Future
Lion of the Future Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film: You Will Die at 20, dir: Amjad Abu Alala
Best VR Film: The Key, dir: Celine Tricart
Best VR Experience Award: A Linha, dir: Ricardo Laganaro
Best VR Story Award: Daughters of Chibok, dir: Joel Kachi Benson
Best Documentary on Cinema: Babenco: Tell Me When I Die, dir: Barbara Paz
Best Restored Film: Ectasy, dir: Gustav Machaty