Roy Andersson is the First Swede to Win a Golden Lion at Venice

As a Venice Film Festival characterised by the harshest of realism drew to a close, it was poetry that was crowned with glory. Jury chair Alexandre Desplat spoke of “ten days and 20 films with intense moments of impassioned debate, but with immense enjoyment”. The jury, which also comprised Joan Chen, Philip Gröning, Jessica Hausner, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sandy Powell, Tim Roth, Elia Suleiman and Carlo Verdone, chose “films whose vision allowed us to understand their philosophical and political side, and those which moved us with their poetic and humanistic angle”. It’s a tall order to judge your colleagues. “Long live music, long live cinema!” was Desplat’s final cry.

Thus the Golden Lion for Best Film went to Swedish director Roy Andersson for A Pigeon Sat on A Branch Reflecting on Existence [+], the film with the longest title and the most poetic, offbeat and striking story at the 71st Venice Festival. Andersson, who is 71 years old and has only made five films, thanked “Italian cinema, particularly Bicycle Thieves. Cinema should be full of empathy, just like De Sica’s film!”

The Silver Lion for Best Director was also bestowed upon a Northern European, namelyAndrej Konchalovskij, for The Postman’s White Nights. “This is a strange sensation,” he remarked, “because 52 years ago I was on this stage receiving my first Lion. I’m as happy as I was then, as happy as a child. There is a child inside all of us filmmakers, thank God. But tomorrow, we will wake up as adults.”

Also well deserved and widely expected was the Grand Jury Prize for The Look of Silence [+] by Joshua Oppenheimer. The director, stuck in Chicago airport, sent a video message on his film’s victory, a film that gives a voice to a survivor of the genocide that accompanied the revolution in Indonesia. Moved by the welcome it received from the festival audience, he said: “Even though the film doesn’t come full circle, it has begun a healing process.” Tim Roth stepped in to add that the movie “is a spectacular masterpiece, a film that moves me beyond words, like watching the birth of your child”.

The Volpi Cup for Best Actor was awarded to US actor Adam Driver for Hungry Hearts [+] by Saverio Costanzo, a development that caused much dismay among the members of the press in attendance. When Desplat announced that the Volpi Cup for Best Actress was awarded to Alba Rohrwacher for her role in Costanzo’s film, that was when the boos started to ring out. Very emotional and with a trembling voice, Alba hailed her colleague Adam and the movie’s director, whom she described as “brave and determined”.

The Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor went to Romain Paul, star of the French film Le dernier coup de marteau [+]. He thanked director Alix Delaporte for the confidence she placed in him. Best Screenplay was bestowed upon Ghesseha (Tales) by Iranian filmmaker Rakhshan Banietemad. Meanwhile, and taking everyone by surprise, theSpecial Jury Prize went to Sivas [+] by Turkey’s Kaan Mujdeci, who dedicated the award to the father of his little lead actor, who passed away recently.

The international jury of the Orizzonti section, chaired by Ann Hui and comprising Moran Atias, Pernilla August, David Chase, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Roberto Minervini and Alin Taşçiyan, awarded Best Film to Court by Chaitanya Tamhane, which also won the jury’sBest Debut Film Award. The Orizzonti Award for Best Director went to Theeb by Naji Abu Nowar, while the Special Jury Prize went to another Italian film, the grotesque and brilliantBelluscone. Una storia siciliana [+] by Franco Maresco.

Winners’ List

Golden Lion for Best Film
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Roy Andersson

Grand Jury Prize
The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer

Silver Lion for Best Director
Andrei Konchalovsky, The Postman’s White Nights

Special Jury Prize
Sivas, Kaan Müjdeci

Volpi Cup for Best Actor
Adam Driver, Hungry Hearts (Saverio Costanzo)

Volpi Cup for Best Actress
Alba Rohrwacher, Hungry Hearts (Saverio Costanzo)

Marcello Mastroianni Prize
Romain Paul, Le dernier coup de marteau (Alix Delaporte)

Osella Award for Best Screenplay
Ghesseha (Tales), Rakhshan Banietemad & Farid Mostafavi

Lion of the Future – Laurentiis Prize for a First Film
Court, Chaitanya Tamhane


Best Film
Court, Chaitanya Tamhane

Best Director
Naji Abu Nowar, Theeb

Special Jury Prize
Belluscone. Una storia siciliana, Franco Maresco

Special Prize for Best Actor
Emir Hadžihafizbegović for These Are The Rules by Ognjen Sviličić

Best Short Film
Maryam, Sidi Saleh

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.