South Korean helmer Kim Ki-duk’s twisted thriller “Pieta,” about a mean loan shark who softens up after meeting a woman who claims to be his mother, is the winner of the 69th Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion.
Ki-duk thanked the jury, headed by Michael Mann, by singing a Korean song.
But while “Pieta,” a festival fave considered a return to top form by the longtime arthouse darling, took Venice’s top nod, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” came away with the most prizes, sparking some controversy over this year’s prizegiving method.
“The Master,” Anderson’s powerful drama about the tender male bond between a character based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a wild, alcoholic, and free-spirited follower (Joaquin Phoenix), took both the Silver Lion for Best Director and best male acting nods, ex-aequo, for both Hoffman and Phoenix.
The fact that “The Master” scored multiple prizes, suggests it was the subject of complex negotiations among jurors, as confirmed indirectly by Mann himself.
Mann during the closing ceremony said the jury tried to “cast the right picture to the right award,” without considering the prizes a strict hierarchy.
During the post-awards presser Mann further elaborated by noting that Venice fest rules do not allow a pic to win the Golden Lion and also acting prizes.
“So we decided that a good way to give ‘The Master’ its fullest recognition was, according to a non-hierarchical principle, to give it the prize for best director and also for the actors.”
Austrian helmer Ulrich Seidl took the Special Jury nod for “Paradise: Faith.”
The best actress nod went to Israel’s Hadas Yaron for “Fill The Void” by Rama Bursthein. “Something in the Air,” by Gallic helmer Olivier Assayas took the prize for best screenplay.
The Marcello Mastroianni prize for best emerging thesp went to young Italo actor Fabrizio Falco for his roles in both Marco Bellocchio’s “Dormant Beauty” and Daniele Cipri’s “It Was The Son.”
“It Was The Son” also scored a nod for best cinematography.
The Lion of the Future for best first work went to Turkish helmer Ali Aydin’s “Mold.”
Hong Kong helmer Wang Bing took the top nod in the fest’s Horizons section dedicated to more cutting-edge works.