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Laura Poitras wins Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion

September 10, 2022

"All the Beauty and the Bloodshed," a documentary about photographer Nan Goldin, won the festival's best film award. Cate Blanchett and Colin Farrell were crowned best actors.

Film still from 'All the Beauty and the Bloodshed': a curly red head with glasses looks towards the camera while another person applies mascara, looking the mirror.
"All the Beauty and the Bloodshed" is Laura Poitras' latest documentary, about photographer Nan GoldinImage: Official still

The Golden Lion for best film went to "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed," a documentary about acclaimed photographer Nan Goldin, and her David-vs.-Goliath campaign against the influential Sackler family for their role in the opioid epidemic. It was directed by Academy Award winner Laura Poitras, whose 2014 documentary, "Citizenfour" portrayed Edward Snowden and the NSA spying scandal.

There were 23 films competing for the top award at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, which took place from August 31 to September 10.

'Saint Omer' lands runner-up Silver Lion award

The Silver Lion grand jury prize went to Alice Diop, for "Saint Omer." The French filmmaker's feature debut also earned her the Lion of the Future award. Diop's previous documentary film, "We," had won the top prize of the Encounters section at the 2021 Berlinale.

Film still from "Saint Omer": A Black woman sits among white people in a courtroom gallery.
Alice Diop's "Saint Omer" was acclaimed as "hypnotically absorbing" by VarietyImage: Srab Films ARTE France Cinema 2022

The Silver Lion award for best director went to Luca Guadagnino ("Call Me By Your Name") for his film "Bones & All," a cannibal romance starring Timothee Chalamet and Taylor Russell. The Canadian actress also won the Marcello Mastroianni award for best new talent.

The Special Jury Prize recognized Jafar Panahi's latest work, "No Bears." The Iranian director was arrested in July and must now serve a six-year sentence that was originally handed to him in 2010. Panahi had been defying his country's authorities work ban for years, finding creative solutions to nevertheless pursue filmmaking.

The award for best screenplay went to British-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, who also directed his Venice entry, "The Banshees of Inisherin." One of the two co-stars of the black comedy-drama, Colin Farrell, won best actor, while Cate Blanchett took the best actress nod for her portrayal of an acclaimed orchestra conductor who faces a sudden downfall in Todd Field's "Tar." Accepting the award, she also thanked her co-star, German actress Nina Hoss.

Film still from 'Tar': Cate Blanchett smiles as she conducts an orchestra
Cate Blanchett's performance in "Tar" was also acclaimedImage: Florian Hoffmeister/Focus Features/Universal Pictures/dpa/picture alliance

US actress Julianne Moore leads seven-person jury

Julianne Moore served as the president of the competition's seven-person jury, which included Argentine director Mariano Cohn, Italian director and screenwriter Leonardo Di Costanzo, French director Audrey Diwan (who won the Golden Lion last year with "Happening"), Iranian actress Leila Hatami,  and Spanish filmmaker Rodrigo Sorogoyen.

British-Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro, who is also a member of the jury, couldn't participate in the awards ceremony due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. 

There weren't however any particular COVID restrictions during the event, leading the ceremony's host, actress Rocio Munoz Morales, to say at the beginning of the night that the fest "shined with normalcy."

The world's oldest film festivalVenice is renowned for selecting Academy Award-winning films; eight of the last 10 Oscars for best director went to filmmakers whose works premiered in its competition.

A record number of Netflix productions, four films, were also in the run. Among them, Noah Baumbach's "White Noise," a satire of US consumerism and academia starring Adam Driver, opened the festival. The streaming giant's productions however left empty-handed.

French actress Catherine Deneuve and US filmmaker and scriptwriter Paul Schrader (Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver," 1974), both received a Golden Lion for their lifetime achievement at the opening of the festival.

Edited by: Wesley Dockery

Portrait of a young woman with red hair and glasses
Elizabeth Grenier Editor and reporter for DW Culture