Update: Venice Winners: 'A Pigeon Sat On A Branch' Takes Golden Lion; 'Birdman' Shut Out; Adam Driver Best Actor

UPDATE 12:20 PM PT: The Venice jury tonight gave its Golden Lion to a bird, but it wasn’t the particular bird many were expecting. Alejandro G Inarritu’s opening night hit Birdman was shut out of the awards. The Golden Lion instead went to Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence. The metaphysical film is the final leg of a trilogy about what it means to be a human being. It carries on from 2000’s Songs From The Second Floor and 2007’s You, The Living. Pigeon was well-received by critics here so it’s not a total surprise – and this was a movie folks had been waiting for since it didn’t turn up on the Cannes roster after Andersson’s previous two debuted there. Jury member Tim Roth said he liked Birdman and told the press corps of its omission amongst the prizes, “There is nothing like seeing Michael Keaton kicking ass, not in a batsuit but in a birdsuit. (Birdman) is beautfully part of a very strange and quite wonderful selection.” He added about the glowing reviews the film had received, “Something you need to remember is that most of us don’t read reviews (during the festival). I don’t know what you write. It doesn’t mean anything” to the jury.

In other prizes, GirlsAdam Driver surprised as the Volpi Cup Best Actor winner for Hungry Hearts. The Italian film by Saverio Costanzo is in English and follows a couple in New York who struggle over their child’s upbringing. Driver was not in town for the win, but sent a message of gratitude. His co-star, Alba Rohrwacher, won the Best Actress Volpi Cup. She’s the sister of director Alice Rohrwacher who won the Cannes Grand Jury Prize for The Wonders, in which Alba also appears.

A year after they were first allowed to be included in competition, a documentary scooped another major award. Joshua Oppenheimer’s extremely well-received The Look Of Silence, which is a companion piece to Oscar nominated The Act Of Killing, won the Grand Jury Prize. Oppenheimer sent a taped message from a Chicago airport saying he’d wanted to come back to the Lido, but got stranded due to thunderstorms. He said the reaction to the film in Venice had helped begin the process of healing for his lead subject who sought out his brother’s killers in the film. In a departure from the norm, Roth stood to personally weigh in: “This is a masterpiece. It is something spectacular that moved me… It’s like watching your children being born. I loved it. It has a dignity beyond words.”

Taking the Silver Lion for directing was Russian helmer Andrei Konchalovsky for The Postman’s White Nights. He said he felt like a kid on Christmas, even several decades since he first came to Venice.

PREVIOUS, 10:57 AM PT: The awards ceremony for the 71st Venice Film Festival is about to kick off here on the Lido. Alexandre Desplat is president of the jury that will hand out the Golden Lion and other major prizes. Among the films eligible that have played well with critics are Alejandro G Inarritu’s Birdman; Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look Of Silence; Andrei Konchalovsky’s The Postman’s White Nights; Italian titles Il Giovane Favoloso, Anime Nere and Hungry Hearts; China’s Red Amnesia; Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence; and Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes. After a scandal in 2012 when the jury was unable to award the Golden Lion to its first choice, rules were tweaked last year to add a Grand Jury Prize. But only in exceptional cases can a film win more than one prize; and whoever wins the Golden Lion can win that, and only that, award. See below for winners updated as they are announced:


Golden Lion, Best Film:
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence, dir: Roy Andersson (Sweden)

Silver Lion, Best Director:
Andrei Konchalovsky, The Postman’s White Nights (Russia)

Grand Jury Prize:
The Look Of Silence, dir: Joshua Oppenheimer

Volpi Cup, Best Actress:
Alba Rohrwacher, Hungry Hearts

Volpi Cup, Best Actor:
Adam Driver, Hungry Hearts

Marcello Mastroianni Award for for Best New Young Actor or Actress:
Romain Paul, Le Dernier Coup De Marteau (France)

Best Screenplay:
Ghesseha; dir: Rakshan Banietemad (Iran)

Special Jury Prize:
Sivas, dir: Kaan Mujdeci (Turkey, Germany)

Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a debut film:
Court, dir: Chaitanya Tamhane

Best Film:
Court, dir: Chaitanya Tamhane

Best Director:
Naji Abu Nowar, Theeb

Special Jury Prize
Berlusconi, dir: Franco Moresco

Best Actor:
Emir Hadzihafizbegovic, These Are The Rules

Best Short Film:
Maryam, dir: Sidi Saleh

Best Restoration
Una Giornata Particolare, dir: Ettore Scola

  1. No one cares about winners of the Cannes and Venice festivals for a few years now. Really. Not even hollywood actors and directors.

    I remember it was important back in a day. And I was giving attention too. But then movies come out, journalists and movie analytics praise some movies and performances. And then jury gives top prises to some random movies and filmakers from different countries. And no one hears about those movies and actors ever again. Most of the time.

    So what’s the point to root for someone? And regular people just lost interest in those festivals. Venice got winners. Who cares? No one. And even hollywood and british filmmakers don’t care. They just come for free promotion for their movies and then leave and don’t care to win.

    I don’t know any person from that winners list. Except that Adam Driver guy who they out in Star Wars.

    1. “They” probably don’t even know that Adam Driver is an Iraq War veteran who is active in Veteran’s causes and is probably not an Obama Youth. Good thing Lena Dunham didn’t ask him too many questions before casting him as her BF on “Girls.”

      Now that he’s playing a Jedi (or a Sith Lord, or spice smuggler, or bounty hunter, or whatever) in the next Star Wars it’s too late send him back to the D-list. Tsk! Tsk!

      1. Adam Driver is indeed a veteran of the Marine Corps, but a training injury lead to his discharge before he could be deployed to Iraq.

  2. St: I don’t know if you’re attempting to be satirical… indeed I hope you are.

    In the event that you’re not, I’d like to inform you that many people who enjoy film do relish the information on the winners. Not because we ‘root’ for them, as you put it… as though it were a cock fight. But instead, because it lets us know about some films (yes, usually ‘foreign’ films) which are certain to be among the best of the year. Films that we would otherwise almost certainly remain oblivious to. These festivals usually show films which haven’t been released yet, or even sold… so the only people ‘rooting’ would be those present at the event who have actually watched the films.

    Clearly, you equate popularity with quality… and while some films can be both, it is truly a rare occasion when that happens.

    I, and others like me, will continue to seek out festival winning films, and be treated to elite, creative, one-of-a-kind experiences which will foster contemplation & debate which may stay with us for the rest of our lives. You, I assume, will watch The Amazing Daredevil Armadillo Man IV, and forget its ‘story’ before you exit the theatre’s parking lot.

    …but the special effects on Armadillo Man’s amour plates did TOTALLY BLOW MY MIND! I’ll give you that.

    1. Oh yeah, bring back “you like popcorn movies”. How original….

      I don’t like depressing boring movies. And most of those european movies on festivals are. It’s just what it is – Venice and Cannes lost popularity big time. I used to read reviews of the movies, people were talking about favorites, waiting for winners. Now no one cares about the winners and festival. I don’t even know date when they are to be announced.

      There are zillinos of movie festivals. And only Cannes and Venice are most known. Because of the stars, the movie that premiere, the early hype of some movies or performances. But more and more big stars loose interest in those two. It’s not prestige to be winner anymore. They are just giving it to filmakers that we will never hear about again.

      It’s just what it is – those two festivals lost popularity big time in the last few years. Now instead of A-list big talented stars people like Kristen Stewarts or Robert Pattinson use it to premiere their small budget indie movies that otherwise would just quietly die in limited box-office completely unnoticed.

      1. There’s no need to be ‘original’ if the point is correct. If you find the Cannes winning films of the last decade to be ‘boring’, then the only possible reason is that you don’t like to think when you watch a film. A ‘thinking’ person would never say such a thing about the works of Michael Heneke and Cristian Mungiu, two of the finest directors working today.

        Believe it or not, there’s an entire world beyond America’s borders. And be thankful for that, or else you wouldn’t have anybody else to feel superior to.

      2. There is no real difference between saying “I don’t like depressing movies” and saying “I like popcorn movies.” I see you jammed the word “boring” in there after “depressing” as if the two were connected. I suppose that, for the rubes, depressing=boring, but I found the latest Godzilla remake far more boring then Melancholia. Why should I care if some rubes think otherwise?

        1. Because ignorance becomes rather annoying when vocalized as authority. But you’re right, we shouldn’t care.

          Regarding Melancholia, a ‘depressing’ film about depression… I couldn’t agree more. Hell, I’ve seen in three times. Truly inspired film-making, which, in a better world, would have been a ‘box office hit’.

  3. These festivals are not for the general public. They are for the in crowd to gather and pat each other on the back and gloat in their glory. The vast majority of the public would need Prozac to be able to sit through the depraved and downer themes of most of these movies. They are made for each other and not for a valid audience of the public. That is fine, but when you read an article whining about how far down the attendance is at the movies this year, Take a look at the drivel that is being foisted up us in general. I do not want to watch a movie about a mother who is starving her child. I do not want to see drug scenes. I want to see entertaining, high quality films that make me feel good and let me escape for a while. I can get depressed or feel bad easy enough on my own. I used to go to at least one film a week, now I am lucky if I chose to go 6-8 times a year.

  4. The title of my next film will be called, “A Penguin Looking Down and Ponders the Meaning of Ice and Fish”. It’s going to be an intellectual snoozer for the elite, high-minded filmgoers!

    Really, those European existential films and those silly titles are so cliched and so boring. No wonder Europeans cannot come up with great intensive or intriguing movies that really got us attention. Venice and Cannes film festivals gave us nothing compelling in the last several years.

  5. Orca: OK, JUST going by the winners from the last several years, we have ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days’, ‘The Class’, ‘The White Ribbon’, ‘The Tree of Life’, and ‘Amour’. Each are phenomenal pictures that both move a person and leave a life-long impression, made by some of the finest directors in the world. I haven’t seen the last 2 winners, so I can’t say about them… but if you found none of these films ‘compelling’… well, I can only imagine that you haven’t seen them, or you got here from the ‘Drudge Report’ link.

    ‘Nothing compelling’ is how I’d describe the vast, vast majority of films released in North America, which appears to be aiming nearly every film at adolescents, or adults still stuck in theirs.

  6. Arty farty title gets the best accolades from the Frenchies, their guests and the press! What a shocker!!

  7. Another bunch of movies about nothing that two thousand people will see, and feel so artsey about themselves.

  8. Wow, there’s a lot of needless animosity toward foreign and “arty” films in the comments. So ridiculous. There’s room in this big world for all kinds of movies, whether it’s a crowd-pleasing “popcorn movie” or a dark, weird “indie film”. People should just relax and stop feeling so threatened by the existence of things that aren’t their cup of tea.

  9. Lot of hate for artsy Euro films here and I’m not an art film aficionado myself. But I can tell you that Roy Andersson’s movies are absolutely fantastic and completely unique. There has never been a filmmaker with his style before, nor will there be after him. He deserves every accolade given to him. A truly unique filmmaker.

    He builds all his scenarios as sets in his own Stockholm studio, even the ones that are vast exteriors. Everything is done in camera, everything is built, everything is constructed from his mind. They’re more like paintings than films. He spends months and millions on each setup and that’s why his movies take so long to complete. if the smallest detail is wrong, he starts over. Utter perfectionist. Everyone ought to do themselves a favour and see some of the movies from this trilogy. You won’t be disappointed. And they’re really funny as well.

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