Venice Film Festival The Golden Lion winner - Audrey Diwan

Venice Film Festival is very much a victory for women

By Region Culture News North-east Italy

Many of the winners at this year’s Venice Film Festival were women. The top awards went to films directed by women, while best screenplay went to Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Audrey Diwan’s French film L’événement won the Golden Lion (Best Picture). Jane Campion’s ‘The power of the dog’ took home The Silver Lion.

The Golden Lion

The 2021 Venice Film Festival gave its top honour, the Golden Lion for best film, to Audrey Diwan’s French abortion drama L’événement (Happening). This could be seen as the right of female filmmakers to be celebrated and women’s rights acknowledged.

“I feel heard tonight!” a near-ecstatic Diwan said as she accepted her historic award.

Happening is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Annie Ernaux. It tells the story of a bright college student in early-1960s France who sees her emancipation threatened when she gets pregnant. With no legal options available, she tries to find a way to illegally abort.

The Silver Lion

The best director honour, the Silver Lion, went to Jane Campion for her Netflix neo-Western The Power of the Dog. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, the film is Campion’s first feature in 12 years.

Best Screenplay (Premio Osella)

Maggie Gyllenhaal won best screenplay for her directorial debut The Lost Daughter. Noting that she married and had her first child in Italy, Gyllenhaal said “my life as a director and writer was born here, in this theatre,” referencing Venice’s Sala Grande.

Gyllenhaal’s drama, starring Olivia Coleman, is based on the novel by Italian writer Elena Ferrante. “This film is Italian in its bones!” Gyllenhaal said.

Best actors – Coppa Volpi

Penélope Cruz was named Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for her role in Madres Paralelas. It is the first time a Spanish actress has won this prestigious award. The Coppa Volpi for best actor went to John Arcilla for his role in ‘On the Job: The missing 8’.

Madres paralelas 

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar, Madres Paralelas is about two women who give birth at the same time in a hospital. Although the women appear to be very different, they also seem to have a lot in common. Cruz said she experienced this role as one of the most difficult of her entire career.

She takes on the role of Janis, an injured but indestructible woman who, after the birth of her child, fights for the exhumation of her deceased grandfather from a mass grave. The role of the other woman, Ana, is played by Milena Smit. 

Cruz also starred in the Spanish-Argentine film ‘Compentencia oficial’ by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat. This film was one of the favourites for the Golden Lion.

“What an honour to celebrate cinema together here. Thank you Pedro, this honour belongs 100% to you. Your outstanding work and dedication are unique in this day and age. I admire you,” Cruz said in her speech. She also dedicated the Coppa Volpi to her family (husband Javier Bardem and their children) and to the rest of the cast of ‘Madres paralelas’.

Finally, the actress thanked her own mother (“the best teacher and friend”) and her recently deceased mother-in-law and actress Pilar Bardem. The last words she said to her daughter-in-law were “I love you” and “Coppa Volpi”. 

Other Venice Film Festival winners

At the Venice Film Festival last weekend, the Grand Jury Prize went to Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘È stata la mano di Dio’. The Special Jury Prize went to Michelangelo Frammartino’s ‘Il Buco’.. The Premio Marcello Mastroianni (for best emerging actor) was won by Filipo Scotti for his role in ‘È stata la mano di Dio’. 

Forecast for the Oscars?

Venice, the world’s oldest film festival, has become a harbinger for the Academy Awards. The last four Golden Lion winners — Nomadland, Joker, Roma, and The Shape of Water — all triumphed at the Lido before going on to Oscar success.

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