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