Venice 2013: ‘Sacro GRA’ wins the Golden Lion

The Venice Golden Lion returned to the host country after fifteen years this evening with Gianfranco Rosi’s biography of a Rome ring road, Sacro GRA, picking up the festival’s top prize. Renowned director Bernardo Bertolucci and his jury plumped for high arthouse cinema over the more crowd-pleasing fare of Stephen Frears’ British offering Philomena, which had to make do with the award for Best Screenplay. Best Actor and Best Director went respectively to Themis Panou and Alexandros Avranas for Greek family abuse drama Miss Violence. Although the film (for this reviewer at least) is an exploitative, nasty piece of work, it’s undeniably well-directed, and Panou is utterly brilliant as the chilling pater familias.

The Grand Jury Prize was reserved for Tsai Ming-liang’s dark horse Stray Dogs which, with its ten-minute long takes of people staring at walls and eating cabbages, could well be a test case for cinephile seriousness. As will the winner of the Special Jury Prize, which went to the austerely punishing – though oddly compulsive – The Police Officer’s Wife. In the Orizzonti section, Robin Campillo’s Eastern Boys proved a popular choice, whilst UK-based Uberto Pasolini (no relation) won the Best Director award for the Eddie Marsan-starring character study Still Life. Elsewhere, Michael Cody and Amiel Courtin-Wilson picked up the deserved Jury Prize for the delirious and occasionally poetic Ruin.

The visionary, midnight movie weirdness of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin deserved some recognition despite the boos, as did Scott Haze’s compellingly physical performance as Lester Ballard in James Franco period piece Child of God. And yet it would be churlish to second guess this year’s Venice jury. All that remains to be done is to thank you for following and reading our festival reports, and to hope that you’ve enjoyed our Venezia 70 coverage.

Golden Lion: Sacro GRA, dir. Gianfranco Rosi (Italy, France)
Silver Lions: Alexandros Avranas, dir. Miss Violence (Greece)
Grand Jury Prize (Best Director): Stray Dogs, dir. Tsai Ming-liang (Chinese Taipei, France)
Coppa Volpi (Best Actor): Themis Panou, Miss Violence (Greece)
Coppa Volpi (Best Actress): Elena Cotta, A Street in Palermo (Italy, Switzerland, France)
Marcello Mastroianni Award (Best Young Actor/Actress): Tye Sheridan, Joe (US)
Best Screenplay: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena (United Kingdom)
Special Jury Prize: The Police Officer’s Wife, dir. Philip Gröning (Germany)
Lion of the Future: White Shadow, dir. Noaz Deshe (Italy, Germany, Tanzania)
Orrizonti Award for Best Film: Eastern Boys, dir. Robin Campillo (France)
Orrizonti Award for Best Director: Uberto Pasolini, Still Life (United Kingdom, Italy)
Special Orrizonti Prize: Ruin, dir. Michael Cody and Amiel Courtin-Wilson (Australia)
Special Orrizonti Prize for Innovative Content: Mahi Va Gorbeh, dir. Shahram Mokri (Iran)
Orrizonti Award for Best Short Film: Kush, dir. Shubhashish Bhutiani (India).

The 70th Venice Film Festival takes place from 28 August to 7 September, 2013. For more of our Venice 2013 coverage, simply follow this link.

John Bleasdale