The closing of the 69th Venice Film Festival this evening was awash in scandal, and the preamble to the prizes appears to have had its share of confusion as well. Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master took the most kudos with the Silver Lion for directing and a shared best actor Volpi Cup for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. However, a person close to the process confirms to Deadline that the jury originally wanted to give the top prize Golden Lion to The Master, but the panel was hampered by rules that don’t allow for one film to be too heavily weighted. So, tonight, the Golden Lion was given to South Korea’s Kim Ki-duk for redemption story Pieta. That film was very well-received during the festival and indeed was the one that most considered a challenger to The Master. But it’s a scandal this does not reflect the Venice jury’s true intent.
Meanwhile, at the Lido’s Sala Grande tonight, the jury mixed up the Silver Lion for best director and the special jury prize between The Master and Ulrich Seidl’s absurdist religious tale Paradise: Faith. Ultimately, it was Anderson who won the Silver Lion and Paradise: Faith which snagged the jury prize. Hoffman had just jetted in from Toronto, and had already said his thanks for the jury prize on behalf of Anderson, before bouncing back up to the stage to collect the Lion when the mistake was noted. He had also accepted the acting awards on his and Phoenix’s behalf.
Hadas Yaron took the Volpi Cup for best actress in Rama Burshtein’s Israeli arranged marriage drama Fill The Void. Olivier Assayas won for best screenplay for his 1970s-set French film Après Mai. Daniele Cipri was recognized for technical achievement for Italy’s E Stato Il Figlio and Fabrizio Falco was named best emerging talent for the same film.