For the fifth time since 1949, a director wins the Golden Lion for best film. Chloé Zhao convinced the jury in Venice with the US drama “Nomadland”.
A young director from China made history at the Venice International Film Festival. The US drama “Nomadland” by Beijing born Chloé Zhao won the Golden Lion for Best Film on Saturday evening. It is only the fifth time since 1949 that the main prize of the festival has been awarded to the work of a female director. In 2010 Sofia Coppola was the last woman to win a Golden Lion – for her drama “Somewhere”.
In her feature film “Nomadland”, 38-year-old Zhao tells the story of a woman who, after the economic collapse of a small town in Nevada, packs her things into her car and lives as a nomad. The leading role as Fern is played by Oscar winner Frances McDormand (“Fargo”, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”).
Venice Film Festival: Golden Lion for US drama “Nomadland
“We can’t just see things from one perspective,” Zhao said after the award ceremony about the importance of women filmmakers. “I have a lot of hope for the future – for more women directors.” Because of the Corona pandemic she was unable to travel to Venice and was posted online for the film festival. In the festival program she had explained in advance that she herself grew up in cities in China and England and has always felt attracted by wide streets. “An idea that I find typically American – the endless search for what lies beyond the horizon.”
German productions went away empty-handed
German hopes, on the other hand, were disappointed at the festival: The political drama “Und morgen die ganze Welt” by Julia von Heinz about a young, left-wing activist went away empty-handed – as did the German co-productions “Quo vadis, Aida?” by Berlin-based director Jasmila Žbanić about the massacre in Srebrenica and the social satire “Never Gonna Snow Again” by Polish directors Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert.
The Grand Prize of the Jury, the second most important award of the festival, went to “Nuevo orden”. In it, Mexican director Michel Franco paints a gloomy picture of his country in the near future, focusing on the gap between rich and poor.
Vanessa Kirby honored as best actress
The jury honored the 32-year-old British actress Vanessa Kirby for “Pieces of a Woman” as the best actress. In the drama by Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó she plays a woman who loses her child moments after birth. The award for best actor went to the Italian Pierfrancesco Favino for his performance in “Padrenostro”, which tells of a traumatic childhood in Italy in the 1970s.
The Silver Lion for Best Director was awarded to the Japanese Kiyoshi Kurosawa for his drama “Spy no Tsuma (Wife of a Spy)”, which was set in 1940. The prize for the best screenplay went to the Indian filmmaker Chaitanya Tamhane for “The Disciple” about a young musician. The black and white “Dorogie Tovarischi! (Dear Comrades!)” by Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky received the Special Jury Prize.
Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world
This year, 18 entries competed for the main prizes. The awards were presented by an international jury chaired by the Australian actress Cate Blanchett. The jury also included German director Christian Petzold and US actor Matt Dillon. The Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world.
It was also the first of the world’s major festivals to take place as planned since the beginning of the Corona pandemic. Strict rules applied: For example, mouth-and-nose protection had to be worn on the premises, including the entire time in the cinema. Jury president Blanchett praised the organization after the award ceremony. Everything went smoothly, she said, and people quickly got used to wearing the masks. “A good discussion is a good discussion – with or without a mask,” she said of the jury’s discussions.
Last year, the psychological thriller “Joker” by the US American Todd Phillips, starring Joaquin Phoenix, won the Golden Lion of the Festival.