UPDATE, writethru with backstage comments: Guillermo del Toro’s lyrical period fairy tale, The Shape Of Water, was crowned with the top prize Golden Lion here tonight at the Venice Film Festival. The Mexican filmmaker’s fantasy splashed down on the Lido last week early in the proceedings, and left folks swooning in its wake. It was among the best-reviewed pictures here, and had one of the most emotional gala screenings in memory. When the Lion was announced tonight, the press room positively erupted with joy.
The Shape Of Water, a Cold War-set parable that stars Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon, reps del Toro’s first time in competition here. The prize, he noted, is the first time a Mexican helmer has won the Golden Lion. From the stage, the filmmaker said, “I’m 52 years old, I weigh 300 pounds, and I’ve done 10 movies. There is a moment in every storyteller’s life, no matter what age you are, you risk it all and go and do something different.”
Venice Film Festival Adds Luca Guadagnino Pandemic-Themed Short & School Shooting Thriller 'Run Hide Fight'
Added the teary del Toro, “To every Latin American filmmaker dreaming of doing something in the fantastic genre, it can be done.”
He said he intends to call the statue the “Sergio Leone” and remarked how full the Sala Grande was of the things he believes in, “Life, love and cinema.” That echoed something he’d said earlier in the week of the film, which mixes fantasy, romance, thriller, and old-style Hollywood: it’s a movie that’s “in love with love and in love with cinema.” Shape took 10 years of struggle for del Toro to get made, and he’s said it was the hardest shoot he’s ever had.
With his Venice appearance, del Toro completed, in a way, a circle begun by his compatriots and pals Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro G Inarritu, whose Gravity and Birdman, respectively, made big splashes in recent years on this island before going on to Oscar glory. The Shape Of Water is a movie we will be talking about all through awards season.
Backstage, del Toro spoke to the press and was asked about the significance of the win for genre movies. “It means a lot,” he said pointing to parables that are “artistic, beautiful, politically charged movies.” It’s about time, he said, that “we understand every vernacular in cinema done with intelligence and passion is valid.”
Of awards in general, del Toro said, “You do what you do as an act of love and creation, and if something happens to the movie in prize terms, it’s great. But the important thing when that happens is for it to happen with work that is completely personal to you, that you didn’t have to modify. If you receive awards from purity and truth, that’s great. If you have boos, if you have your purity, it soothes you.”
The award was especially emotional for del Toro. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. It’s easy to say 25 years, but to live them, you go up, you go down. You fly, you crash. A career is an accident in slow motion.” Then, pointing to ‘Sergio Leone,’ he said, “This is an airbag being deployed.”
Shape next screens in Toronto, where del Toro made the passion project. Fox Searchlight has a December 8 domestic release date.
Fox Searchlight also scored a win for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, for which director/writer Martin McDonagh took the Best Screenplay prize. His film was another of the mightily-praised here over the past 10 days, and boasts great performances from Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson.
Upon receiving the award, McDonagh said he and the cast had enjoyed a “beautiful time, beautiful pasta and loads and loads of beautiful negronis” here in Venice. But tonight was “the most beautiful part.”
In the Best Actress category, veteran Charlotte Rampling took the Volpi Cup for her turn in Andrea Pallaoro’s French-language drama, Hannah. The actress noted she had come to Italy to work at age 22 and gone on to learn so much from its filmmakers. “If I’m here, it’s because of Italy, it really is.”
Other major winners include Samuel Maoz’s Israeli drama, Foxtrot, which scooped the Grand Jury Prize; Xavier Legrand, for his French custody drama Jusqu’à La Garde — he won both Best First Film and Best Director — and Iranian title No Date, No Signature. The latter, a drama about a coroner who comes to believe he has caused a child’s death, took two prizes in Horizons. And Lean On Pete’s Charlie Plummer was voted the best newcomer.
For the full list of winners, see below the original post.
PREVIOUS: The 74th Venice FIlm Festival draws to a close this evening with prizes about to be handed out by the Annette Bening-led jury. It’s been a strong 10 days here on the Lido, where such pics as Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri drew raves in competition. Both of those hail from Fox Searchlight, and the other U.S. titles also fared well with audiences and critics.
Further, such works as Samuel Maoz’s Foxtrot, musical Ammore E Malavita from the Manetti brothers, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Third Murder and Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country had folks buzzing.
Last year, Sam Mendes’ jury brought the studios back to the winners’ circle, but Venice juries are hard to call. We’ll know more from the Lido in just a little while, including the results of the Horizons and Classics sidebars, and the new Virtual Reality competition. Keep checking back below as we update the winners when they’re announced inside the Sala Grande.
The Shape Of Water, dir: Guillermo del Toro
Grand Jury Prize
Foxtrot, Samuel Maoz
Silver Lion, Best Director
Xavier Legrand, Jusqu’à La Garde
Volpi Cup, Best Actress
Charlotte Rampling, Hannah
Volpi Cup, Best Actor
Kamel El Basha, The Insult
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Special Jury Prize
Sweet Country, dir: Warwick Thornton
Marcello Mastroianni Award for for Best New Young Actor or Actress
Charlie Plummer, Lean On Pete
Nico, 1988, dir: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Vahid Jalilvand, No Date, No Signature
Special Jury Prize
Caniba, dirs: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel
Lyna Khoudri, Les Bienheureux
Navid Mohammadzadeh, No Date, No Signature
Los Versos Del Olvido, dir: Alireza Khatami
Best Short Film
Gros Chagrin, dir: Céline Devaux
Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film
Jusqu’à La Garde, dir: Xavier Legrand
Idi I Smotri, dir: Elem Klimov
Best Documentary on Cinema
The Prince And The Dybbuk, dirs: Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosolowski
VENICE VIRTUAL REALITY
Arden’s Wake (Expanded), dir: Eugene YK Chung
Best VR Experience
La Camera Insabbiata, dirs: Laurie Anderson, Hsin-Chien Huang
Best VR Story
Bloodless, dir: Gina Kim
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.