VENICE, the world's oldest and most elegant film festival, reached the age of 75 this year in perfect shape.
At the closing ceremony on Sunday, the prestigious Golden Lion went to Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, a black-and-white drama drawn from the director’s memories of growing up in Mexico City in the early 1970s.
The film, which marks the director’s return to Spanish-language film making, is clearly Cuaron’s most personal work, showing immense respect in portraying the women who raised him.
It centres on two domestic workers of Mixtec heritage, who tirelessly take care of a small family in the middle-class neighbourhood of Roma. The film is good-looking throughout, finely observed and more than capable of moving an audience to tears.
The Favourite, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’s darkly comic period piece, won the Grand Jury prize and Olivia Colman won the best actress award for her hilarious performance as Queen Anne, a dysfunctional monarch who suffers from gout and only occasionally rises out of her four-poster bed to go around her palace in a wheelchair.
Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, the only title in the competition directed by a woman, also scooped a couple of awards. The revenge thriller won the Special Jury prize, as well as the best young actor which went to Baykali Ganambarr.
In this sometimes violent film, set in 19th century Tasmania, a 21-year-old Irish female convict and an Aboriginal tracker pursue the British army officer who wronged her family. The film prompted a sexist outburst aimed at the director during the press screening, which resulted in the withdrawal of the offender’s press credentials.
French director Jacques Audiard took best director for The Sisters Brothers, his witty English-language Western starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C Reilly as sibling hit men, while best actor went to Willem Dafoe for his tour-de-force portrayal of Vincent van Gogh during the painter’s artistically illuminated but mentally dark final period in Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate.
Joel and Ethan Coen won best screenplay for their Western The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. The Coen Brothers are among the most original film-makers in the US and the film turns a familiar genre, the Western drama, into something miles away from the ordinary.
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