Art and Experience: “The Woman Who Left,” a revenge drama by Filipino auteur Lav Diaz about the struggle of a wrongly convicted schoolteacher in the outside world after 30 years behind bars, is the winner of the 73rd Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion.
Shot in black and white and lasting nearly four hours “Woman Who Left” was praised by Variety critic Guy Lodge as a “powerful and, by his [Diaz’s] standards, refreshingly contained moral study.”
“This is for my country, for the Filipino people; for our struggle and the struggle of humanity,” said Diaz, as he thanked the jury headed by Sam Mendes.
Tom Ford-directed romantic noir “Nocturnal Animals,” set in the L.A. art scene and the Texas criminal underworld, took the fest’s Jury Grand Prize. It is the second film directed by the fashion designer, following “A Single Man” which premiered in Venice in 2009.
“I have a very beautiful memory of the warm reception my first film received here seven years ago,” the former Gucci guru said speaking in Italian. “To return here is for me the realisation of a big dream.”
Best director donors were split between Mexican helmer Amat Escalante’s eclectic mix of naturalistic drama and sci-fi erotica, “The Untamed,” and Veteran Russian auteur Andrei Konchalovsky’s Holocaust drama “Paradise.”
The Special Jury Prize went to “The Bad Batch,” a dystopian fairy tale set in a Texas wasteland by Iranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour. Lodge called it a “blood-spattered mash-up of genres, from cannibal exploitation to spaghetti western.”
Amirpour thanked festival organisers for “bringing me and my weird, twisted fairy tale to Venice; it’s been a dream.” “I wish my mom and dad were here because they would really love this s—t,” she added.
Emma Stone scooped the best actress prize for her role as Mia, an aspiring actress and playwright with a passion for the magic of old movie stars,” in Damien Chazelle’s musical “La La Land,” itself a tribute to old Hollywood, which opened the festival on a decidedly positive note. Stone was not present at the awards ceremony.
Noah Oppenheim won the best screenplay nod for “Jackie,” directed by Chilean director Pablo Larrain. Starring Natalie Portman as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, it reconstructs the four-day period right after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
“One of the things I like most about the Venice Film Festival, and all festivals — and something I didn’t really understand from the outside — is that we can only give one award per movie,” Mendes said on stage.
“Of course we’re here to encourage people to come to the cinema and come to see original films,” Mendes later noted at the post ceremony press conference.
“But we did not talk about this in our discussions. We talked about all movies in the same way,” he added.
The Marcello Mastroianni award for best young performer went to German actress Paula Beer for her role as a World War I widow in French director Francois Ozon’s period drama “Frantz.” It was the first time she performed in French.
Tunisian director Ala Eddine Slim won the Luigi De Laurentiis Lion of the Future for best first work for drama “The Last of Us,” which screened in Critics’ Week and has no dialogue. It tracks a Sub-Saharan man through the desert to North Africa where he steals a boat and embarks on an imaginary surrealistic odyssey.
“The Woman Who Left,” Lav Diaz, Philippines
SILVER LION BEST DIRECTOR (TIE)
“Paradise,” Andre Konchalovsky, Russia, Germany
“The Untamed,” Amat Escalante, Mexico
JURY GRAND PRIZE
“Nocturnal Animals,” Tom Ford, U.S.
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“The Bad Batch,” Ana Lily Amirpour, U.S.
Oscar Martinez (“The Distinguished Citizen,” Argentina, Spain)
Emma Stone (“La La Land,” U.S.)
MARCELLO MASTROIANNI PRIZE FOR YOUNG PERFORMER –
Paula Beer (“Frantz,” France)
Noah Oppenheim (“Jackie,” U.S.)
LUIGI DE LAURENTIIS LION OF THE FUTURE
“The Last of Us,” Ala Eddine Slim, Tunisia
“Liberami,” Federica di Giacomo, Italy
“Home,” Fien Troch, Belgium
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“Big Big World,” Reha Erdam, Turkey
SPECIAL PRIZE FOR BEST ACTOR
Nuno Lopes (“Sao Jorge,” Portugal)
SPECIAL PRIZE FOR BEST ACTRESS
Ruth Diaz (“The Fury of a Patient Man,” Spain)
Wang Bing (“Bitter Money,” China)
“La Voz Perdida,” Marcelo Mantinessi, Paraguay
VENICE CLASSICS AWARDS
Best Documentary on Cinema
“Le Councours,” Claire Simon, France
Best Restored Film
“Break-Up — L’uomo dei cinque palloni,” Marco Ferreri, Italy