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Venice Film Festival Golden Lion goes to Guillermo del Toro's 'The Shape of Water'

The world's oldest film festival has awarded its top prize, the Golden Lion, to a movie that has a strong anti-discrimination message. It beat out 21 other contenders at the glitzy event.

Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro's 'The Shape of Water' won the Venice Film Festival's top prize, the Golden Lion, it was announced on Saturday night.

The cold-war era sci-fi romance film was among 21 movies being judged for the coveted award at the world's oldest film festival.

"If you remain pure and stay with your faith, with what you believe in — in my case, monsters — you can do anything," Del Toro told the audience as he dedicated the award to young Latin American directors.

Read more: New Wim Wenders film among German premieres at TIFF

The film has a strong anti-discrimination message, and tells the story of a mute woman who works in a remote US government laboratory and falls in love with a monstrous creature hidden there.

It was picked as a winner by a jury led by American actress Annette Bening at the 74th edition of the annual festival in Italy.

Read more: Why Annette Bening will make a good jury president at the Venice Film Festival

Other contenders for the top award included George Clooney's "Suburbicon" and Alexander Payne's "Downsizing."

Israeli director Samuel Maoz' "Foxtrot' took the runner-up Grand Jury Prize.

The festival's acting trophies went to Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha for his work in the film "The Insult," and to British actress Charlotte Rampling for her work in the drama "Hannah."

Other winners

The 11-day festival finished on Saturday.

Other awards were:

- Silver Lion for best director: Xavier Legrand for "Custody" (France)         

- Special jury prize: "Sweet Country" by Warwick Thornton (Australia)     

- Coppa Volpi for best actor: Kamel El Basha in Ziad Doueiri's "The Insult" (Italy)     

- Coppa Volpi for best actress: Charlotte Rampling in Andrea Pallaoro's "Hannah" (Italy)

- Prize for best screenplay: Martin McDonagh for "Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri" (Britain)

- Marcello Mastroianni award for best young actor or actress: Charlie Plummer in Andrew Haigh's "Lean on Pete" (Britain)

- Lion of the Future for best debut film: Xavier Legrand for "Custody" (France)

aw/jm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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