Surprisingly given the encroachment of the Toronto International Film Festival and the ongoing rivalry with Cannes, the Venice Film Festival still manages to provide a top quality programme. Although there were definitely some notable absences this year – Paul Thomas Anderson for one – the dearth of blockbuster fare allowed room for a much more diverse and surprising line up. The awards generally featured few surprises, with Roy Andersson’s hotly tipped A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence winning the Golden Lion, followed by Konchalovsky’s The Postman’s White Night. The only real misstep was the dual acting honours for Hungry Hearts. In a festival which would have as a whole failed the Bechdel Test, Alba Rohrwacher’s prize still seems a snatch from the Red Amnesia’s superb Lü Zhong.
Fellow Hungry Hearts lead Adam Driver, a talented young actor with many choices roles ahead of him, didn’t particularly shine when compared to the likes of Al Pacino (The Humbling, Manglehorn), Viggo Mortensen (Far from Men) and a career best turn from Michael Keaton (Birdman). The Best Young Actor or Actress award win for Romain Paul was well deserved and a nice discreet nod for The Last Hammer Blow, a truly beautiful film which perhaps would have fared better in a side strand. Indian director Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court, however, was a worthy winner of the Orizzonti sidebar, with its tale of a legal system riven with corruption. For those empty handed, honourable mentions should go to Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes, David Oelhoffen’s Far from Men and the hallucinatory brilliance of Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s Fires on the Plain.
Best Restored Film
Una Giornata Particolare (A Special Day)