Alfonso Cuaron wins Golden Lion at Venice film fest

Venice: Filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron took home the Golden Lion for “Roma” at the 75th Venice Film Festival.

The prize was given to him by jury president and friend Guillermo del Toro here on Saturday.

“Roma” is a semi-autobiographical black-and-white film on Cuaron’s early upbringing in 1970s Mexico City, seen through the eyes of his housekeeper Cleo. While Netflix has not yet committed to a theatrical release before it hits the streamer, this prize will certainly put weight behind an Oscar campaign for the film, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite”, a period drama about the politic and romantic inner workings of a royal court, won the Grand Jury Prize, while Olivia Colman won the Volpi Cup for best actress for her role as Queen Anne in the film.

Willem Dafoe won the Volpi Cup for best actor for taking on the role of tormented artist Vincent van Gogh in Julien Schnabel’s non-traditional biopic “At Eternity’s Gate”.

Joel and Ethan Coen won best screenplay for “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”.

Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale”, the only female-directed film in competition, took home the Special Jury Prize. It stars Aisling Franciosi as a young Irish convict who hunts the man who wronged her with the help of an aboriginal tracker played by Baykali Ganambarr.

“I would also like to say to all those women out there wanting to make films, please go and do it. We need you. The feminine force is the most powerful and healing force on the planet. I’m confident next year and the year after we’ll see more and more women inhabiting this space,” Kent said.

The world’s oldest film fest concluded its 75th anniversary edition not without controversy, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

After Cannes had shut out Netflix this year, Venice debuted a record six titles from the streamer, with three in the main competition and one in Horizons. Italian exhibitors were less than thrilled with the move, and the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE) issued a strongly worded letter to the festival to reserve competition slots for films that will be exhibited in cinemas internationally, rather than simultaneously released in 190 countries.

But the larger controversy was once again festival chief Alberto Barbera choosing only one film directed by a woman. Barbera maintained that quality was his only factor in choosing films, but the topic came up throughout the festival.

Venice film gala chiefs also signed a festival charter for gender parity, but did so only after making a big show of saying that it was barely necessary as they already hire a majority of women and are open about their submissions and selection panels.