ROME – Pieta, a Korean drama about a loan shark’s relationship with his mother from Kim Ki-duc, was given Venice’s Golden Lion prize for Best Film after festival rules prohibited the jury from giving the award to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.
The Master still won two major prizes: Anderson won the Silver Lion for Best Director, while the Copa Volpi for Best Actor was split between the film’s co-protagonists Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. But the jury, headed by Michael Mann, reportedly voted to give the Golden Lion to The Master as well, but the honor was revoked after it was revealed that Venice rules prohibit a single film from winning more than two major prizes.
It is the second time in three years that Venice’s top awards were surrounded in controversy. In 2010, Jury president Quentin Tarantino was criticized after most of the festival’s main awards went to directors he was close to, including the Golden Lion to Somewhere from Sophia Coppola, Tarantino’s former girlfriend.
Similar stories circulated in 2008 after rules made it impossible for the jury to give the Golden Lion to Darren Aronofski's The Wrestler and to also honor Mickey Rourke with the Copa Volpi for Best Actor. In the end, the film was given the Golden Lion and Rourke lost out on the acting prize, which was given to Italy's Silvio Orlando for his work in Giovanna's Father.
The controversy may serve to cast a shadow over the otherwise well-received festival under artistic director Alberto Barbera, who returned to the world’s oldest festival after a ten-year hiatus.
The special jury prize went to Ulrich Seidl for his exploration of religious faith in Paradies: Glaube (Pradise: Faith), while the Copa Volpi prize for Best Actress went to Hadas Yaron for her work in Lemake et Ha’Chalal from Israeli director Rama Bursthein.
The Marcello Mastroianni award for best New Young Actor or Actress went to Fabrizio Falco, one of at least half a dozen actors who appeared in two films from the official selection. Falco appeared in both Marco Bellocchio’s Bella Addormentata (Dormant Beauty) and E’ Stat oil Figlio (The Son Was Here) from Daniele Cipri. The prize to Falco was the most significant award for an Italian production in this year’s festival.