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Festival favoritism?

September 12, 2010

American filmmaker Sofia Coppola was awarded the top prize for best film at the Venice Film Festival for "Somewhere," a look at the lonely life of a Hollywood star. But at least one critic claimed the contest was rigged.

Director Sofia Coppola with her Golden Lion award for the film Somewhere at Venice Film Festival
Coppola thanked her father for "teaching her" after winningImage: AP

Sofia Coppola's film "Somewhere" won her the Venice Film Festival's highest honor on Saturday. The head of the seven-person jury, Quentin Tarantino, presented Coppola with the Golden Lion.

"From that first enchanted screening it grew and grew in our hearts, in our minds, in our affections," he said of the film, admitting that as the jury discussed the other films, "Somewhere" kept popping up in their conversations.

Tarantino faced claims the jury's decisions were unfair as he and Coppola were once romantically involved with each other and Tarantino's friend and mentor Monte Hellman won a special award for his career's work.

A scene from Coppola's "Somewhere"
"Somewhere" has won praise for its portrayal of Hollywood lifeImage: image.net

"The (jury) presidency of Quentin Tarantino runs the risk of being the most obvious conflict of interest, given that "Somewhere" and (Hellman's) "Road to Nowhere" seemed charming and intriguing but nothing more," Paolo Mereghetti, a film critic for Italian daily Corriere della Sera, wrote in Sunday's edition.

Other surprise decisions came in the form of the Spanish entry "Balada Triste de Trompeta," which won best director and screenplay prizes for Alex de la Iglesia and was widely panned, and the best actor award for "Essential Killing" star Vincent Gallo, who did not have a single line in the film. This year no Italian movie earned an award.

Coppola, the 39-year-old American filmmaker, thanked her father, famed director Francis Ford Coppola "for teaching me."

"Somewhere" portrays the empty life of an A-list Hollywood star and his relationship with his pre-teen daughter. Coppola won an Oscar in 2003 for the screenplay to "Lost in Translation," another film about loneliness.

The oldest film festival

Alex de la Iglesia from Spain won the Silver Lion for best director for his film "A Sad Trumpet Ballad," a dark comedy that he described as an attempt to "exorcise" the pain of the Spanish Civil War.

A scene from "Essential Killing"
The best actor award when to Vincent Gallo for his role as an escaped detainee in PolandImage: image.net

Jerzy Skolimowski's "Essential Killing," about an American Taliban fighter who is captured in Afghanistan and then escapes from the Polish detention center where he is sent, won both the special jury prize as well as a best actor award for Vincent Gallo.

After arriving in Venice in a balaclava, Gallo, who had his own movie "Promises Written in Water" in the competition, steered clear of the public eye during the festival, which ran from September 1-11. He did not personally accept his award.

French-Greek actress Ariane Labed won the best actress award for her role in Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari's "Attenberg." American cult director Monte Hellman was awarded a Special Lion for Overall Work.

This was the 67th Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the world. This year 79 full-length films from 34 countries had their world premiere at the festival.

Author: Holly Fox (AFP/dpa/Reuters)

Editor: Sean Sinico