The fall movie season shifted into a new gear on Saturday as the Venice International Film Festival handed out its awards, typically a strong indicator of what lies ahead on the road to next year's Oscars.
For the first time, the festival's top prize went to a film directed by a woman for the second year in a row. The French abortion drama Happening, directed by Audrey Diwan, picked up the prestigious Golden Lion, with Diwan becoming only the sixth woman ever to receive the award. Nomadland's Chloé Zhao became the first woman in a decade to win the Golden Lion last year.
"I did this movie with anger. I did the movie with desire also. I did it with my belly, my guts, my heart, my head," Diwan said in her acceptance speech. "I wanted Happening to be an experience."
Marc Piasecki/Getty Images Olivia Colman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Dakota Johnson promoting their film 'The Lost Daughter' at the 78th Venice Film Festival
The awards for Best Screenplay and Best Director went to female filmmakers as well. Maggie Gyllenhaal picked up the screenplay prize for The Lost Daughter, her debut as a writer-director, while Jane Campion became the second woman to receive the Silver Lion for Best Director since the award was introduced in 1990. (The first was Shirin Neshat in 2009.)
Campion won for her acclaimed Netflix Western The Power of the Dog, her first feature film in 12 years. "It's amazing to get an award from you people," she said, addressing the jury. "You've made the bar very, very high for me in cinema, Bong, Chloé."
Other winners included Penélope Cruz, who received the Volpi Cup for Best Actress for Pedro Almodóvar's Parallel Mothers; Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino, who won the runner-up Grand Jury Prize for The Hand of God; and Filipino actor John Arcilla, who remotely accepted the Best Actor prize for On the Job: The Missing 8.
Venice has become a major launchpad for Oscar season in recent years, with the Golden Lion winner going on to receive Best Picture in 2017 and 2020 (The Shape of Water and Nomadland, respectively). The 2018 and 2019 recipients, Roma and Joker, also went on to become major awards-season players.
See the list of 2021 winners below.
Golden Lion: Audrey Diwan, Happening
Grand Jury Prize: Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God
Silver Lion for Best Director: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Volpi Cup for Best Actor: John Arcilla, On the Job: The Missing 8
Best Screenplay Award: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter
Special Jury Prize: Michelangelo Frammartino, Il Buco
Marcello Mastroianni Award for Young Actor: Filippo Scotti, The Hand of God