UPDATE, writethru with backstage comments: Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white Mexican drama Roma has scooped the Golden Lion at the 75th Venice Film Festival. This is the first movie from Netflix to take such an honor at a major festival, and the second movie in a row from a Mexican filmmaker to win here. Last year, Guillermo del Toro’s Golden Lion winner, The Shape Of Water, went all the way to a Best Picture Oscar.
Del Toro was jury president this year and in announcing his dear friend as the winner, joked, “Now, let me see if I can pronounce the name correctly.” As it did last year with Shape, the press room erupted in applause when Roma won. (The full list of winners is below the original post.)
An ode to Cuaron’s Mexico City childhood, Roma, co-produced by Participant Media and Cuarón’s Esperanto Filmoj, has been embraced here on the Lido and its momentum accelerated when it hit Telluride, as Deadline’s Pete Hammond noted earlier this week.
Cuaron tonight said the award and the Venice festival are “incredibly meaningful to me.” He previously opened the festivities in 2013 with Gravity and was jury president two years ago. He also noted the serendipity of today being the birthday of the woman upon whom Roma is based. At the post-awards press conference, Cuaron was asked if it was more meaningful to him that Roma marks Netflix’s first big win at a major festival, or if he was prouder of the movie on a personal level. He quipped of the intensely personal film, “Do you really need an answer to that?”
The fact that Netflix had so many films in Venice this year was nevertheless a hot-button topic, particularly striking a sour note with Italian distributors. Roma had originally been offered a slot in Cannes, but Netflix ultimately pulled its films from consideration there since they were not eligible for the competition, a situation essentially forced on the French fest owing to an arcane windows rule. It was suggested to del Toro this evening that the fact that a Netflix movie has won the Golden Lion signaled the beginning of the end. Del Toro retorted, “How do you say ‘hyperbole’ in Italian? I don’t think this is the beginning of the end of anything. It’s a continuation of a process that started a hundred years ago.”
Del Toro further noted the decision to award Roma was “entirely unanimous by the entire jury. So, 9-0.”
Netflix is doing an awards-qualifying theatrical run for the movie that Cuaron wrote, directed, produced and shot, and which is now firmly on the path. Participant CEO and exec producer of Roma, David Linde, sent a statement to Deadline that working with Cuaron on the film “has already been an amazing journey for everyone at Participant, and we are beyond thrilled that his brilliant film has been honored with the Golden Lion. This film is a gift to all audiences, transcending language and cultural barriers and inspiring compassion across the globe.”
Netflix also scored with Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs winning the Best Screenplay prize. They were not in attendance, so star Tim Blake Nelson briefly accepted on their behalf. This was one of two wins for Annapurna tonight as well. Megan Ellison’s company also scored with The Sisters Brothers, for which Jacques Audiard took the Best Director Silver Lion. He sent a message to say the prize “reassures me for a little while.”
Audiard was a vocal supporter of gender parity at film festivals this week, and del Toro’s jury also rewarded The Nightingale, the sole competition movie directed by a woman, with two prizes. The film from Jennifer Kent took the Best New Young Actor Award for first-time feature actor Baykali Ganambarr and won the Special Jury Prize.
In accepting, Kent said, “To all those women out there wanting to make films, please go and do it. We need you. The feminine force is the most powerful and healing force on the planet. I hope and am confident we’ll see more and more women inhabiting this space.”
A crowd favorite here, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, won the Grand Jury Prize, while one of its three strong female leads, Olivia Colman, took the Best Actress Volpi Cup. She seemed genuinely moved reading from a piece of paper on which her husband had written out a message in phonetic Italian. Colman said she was “in love with Venice” and so happy the festival was “in love with the movie” in turn.
An offbeat and scathingly funny period comedy set in the time of Queen Anne, it’s a co-fi from Fox Searchlight and the UK’s Film4 in a similar set up to last year’s Venice Best Screenplay winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri which ultimately scored Frances McDormand the Best Actress Oscar.
Best Actor was Willem Dafoe for playing Vincent Van Gogh in Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate. Dafoe called Italy his adopted country, recalling that he first came to Venice 30 years ago with Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ and thanked Schnabel for “the gift of being his Vincent.”
A shut-out tonight was Damien Chazelle’s First Man, which opened the fest on a high. But it’s worth noting that an eventual major awards-season fixture (and eventual Oscar Best Picture winner), Alejandro G Inarritu’s Birdman also left this island empty-handed.
The full list of tonight’s winners is below the original post.
PREVIOUS: The 75th Venice Film Festival draws to a close tonight with the winners about to be announced from inside the Sala Grande here on the Lido.
Guillermo del Toro’s jury has a strong lineup to choose from this year. Such titles as Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white Mexican ode to the filmmaker’s youth Roma, a favorite of local critics; Yorgos Lanthimos’ period comedy The Favourite; Jacques Audiard’s western The Sisters Brothers and Damien Chazelle’s First Man were among the best received. Add to that Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Never Look Away, Paul Greengrass’ 22 July and more.
This festival was punctuated by controversy from having selected only one woman in the main competition to the fact that Netflix factored so heavily, something that riled local distributors. Should Roma win big here, it would be the first time the streaming service takes a major prize on the Lido.
It would also be the second year in a row a film from a Mexican helmer had an important showing. Last year this time, del Toro was about to win the Golden Lion for The Shape Of Water, riding a strand of laurels all the way to a Best Picture Oscar.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
Roma, dir: Alfonso Cuaron
Grand Jury Prize
The Favourite, dir: Yorgos Lanthimos
Silver Lion, Best Director
Jacques Audiard, The Sisters Brothers
Volpi Cup, Best Actress
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Volpi Cup, Best Actor
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Joel & Ethan Coen, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs
Special Jury Prize
The Nightingale, dir: Jennifer Kent
Marcello Mastroianni Award for for Best New Young Actor or Actress
Baykali Ganambarr, The Nightingale
Manta Ray, dir: Phuttiphong Aroonpheng
Ozen (The River), dir: Emir Baigazin
Special Jury Prize
Anons (The Announcement), dir: Mahmut Fazil Coskun
Natalya Kudryashova, The Man Who Surprised Everyone
Kais Nasif, Tel Aviv On Fire
Pema Tseden, Jinpa
Best Short Film
Kado, dir: Aditya Ahmad
Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film
The Day I Lost My Shadow, dir: Soudade Kaadan
VENICE VIRTUAL REALITY
Spheres: Chorus Of The Cosmos, dir: Eliza McNitt
Best VR Experience
Buddy VR, dir: Chuck Chae
Best VR Story
L’Ile Des Morts, dir: Benjamin Nuel
Best Documentary on Cinema
The Great Buster: A Celebration, dir: Peter Bogdanovich
La Notte Di San Lorenzo, dirs: Paolo Vittorio Taviani