VENICE 2011: A MAGNIFICENT END




FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Russian director ALEKSANDR SOKUROV’S FAUST, a new take on the German legend about the quest for knowledge at all cost, won the GOLDEN LION at the VENICE FILM FESTIVAL on Saturday.

FAUST tells the tale of a professor, played by JOHANNES ZEILER, who craves knowledge and sells his soul for the love of MARGARETE, played by ISOLDA DYCHAUK. The Mephistopheles character is portrayed by ANTON ADASINSKIY.

Dense and difficult to watch, FAUST was nevertheless one of the critics’ top choices among the 23 in competition films at Venice this year. It marks the final chapter in ALEKSANDR SOKUROV’S four film look at the relationship between humanity and power that began with MOLOCH in 1999 about Hitler, TAURUS a year later about Lenin and the 2005 film THE SUN about Japanese Emperor Hirohito.

At a post awards news conference, Mr. Sokurov made an impassioned plea for governments to continue supporting culture with state funds.

“Culture is not a luxury. It is the basis for the development of the society,” he said, adding that he had even raised the issue with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in a phone call just after he won.

“And so I am making an appeal to the Italian minister of culture: Thank you for existing. Insist with all methods you have on keeping culture.”

Venice’s BEST ACTOR award went to MICHAEL FASSBENDER for his portrayal of a sex addict in STEVE McQUEEN’S SHAME while BEST ACTRESS was given to DEANIE IP, who plays an aging domestic servant opposite her master in Hong Kong director ANN HUI’S A SIMPLE LIFE.

“I can’t believe how young and beautiful and sexy this woman is!” jury chair DARREN ARONOFSKY gushed of Ms. Ip after the awards ceremony. He said the jury was moved by the message of Ms. Hui’s film.

“It’s an issue we deal with in every part of the world and…to see a journey from health to death with such generosity was very touching,” he said of A SIMPLE LIFE.

The SILVER LION for BEST DIRECTOR went to this year’s surprise entry at the LIDO, Beijing based SHANGJUN CAI for PEOPLE MOUNTAIN PEOPLE SEA. The SPECIAL JURY PRIZE went to the Italian/French production TERRAFERMA, about the influx of migrants to a tiny Italian island, directed by EMANUELE CRIALESE.

All contenders at the world’s oldest film festival were world premieres.

WINNERS

GOLDEN LION (BEST FILM):
FAUST

SILVER LION (BEST DIRECTOR):
SHANGJUN CAI – PEOPLE MOUNTAIN PEOPLE SEA

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE:
TERRAFERMA

BEST ACTRESS:
DEANIE IP – A SIMPLE LIFE

BEST ACTOR:
MICHAEL FASSBENDER – SHAME

MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD FOR BEST NEW YOUNG ACTOR:
SHOTA SOMETANI & FUMI NIKAIDO – HIMIZU

SCREENPLAY:
YORGOS LANTHIMOS & EFTHIMIS FILIPPOU – ALPS

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
ROBBIE RYAN – WUTHERING HEIGHTS

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