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CORONAVIRUS of course had an impact on this year’s socially distanced Venice Film Festival but that didn’t prevent some outstanding talent getting due recognition with top prize, the Golden Lion, going to Chloe Zhao for her compassionate and deeply moving Nomadland. She was only the sixth woman to take Venice’s top prize in its 77 years.
Nomadland is the story of a woman who travels across America in a van after losing her husband, her job and her home. The film was inspired by Jessica Bruder’s book and the life of the radical anti-capitalist activist Bob Wells, who appears as himself and delivers an extraordinarily moving speech at the end of the film.
Starring Frances McDormand, it’s a film combining a profound emotional impact with innovative form as it pays homage to all those suffering from social inequality.
Mexican provocateur Michel Franco won the Silver Lion for New Order, his vivid interpretation of a brutal and bloody coup d’etat against Mexico’s wealthy ruling class, while Japanese veteran Kiyoshi Kurosawa was named best director for Wife of a Spy, a wartime espionage story.
Polished and evocative, it explores loyalty and the horror and cruelty of war, without resorting to massacres or blood-letting.
Best actress went to Britain’s Vanessa Kirby for her devastating turn as a woman coming to terms with a recent miscarriage in Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo’s Pieces of a Woman and best actor went to Pierfrancesco Favino for his starring role in Our Father, an exploration of childhood trauma.
Rouhallah Zamani won the Young Actor prize for his performance in Iranian drama Sun Children. It’s a sharp condemnation of child labour in Iran, packed into a fast-moving tale of a gang of street kids who enrol in a school to dig for hidden treasure below its grounds, while Dear Comrades, a black-and-white recreation of a 1962 massacre of striking factory workers in the Soviet Union, directed by veteran Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky, took the Special Jury prize.
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