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VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2013 - Official Awards and some thoughts about a possible rebirth of Italian cinema

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2013 - Official Awards and some thoughts about a possible rebirth of Italian cinema

Simone Spoladori (September 10, 2013)

During the September 7th Award Ceremony a surprising verdict was announced: after 15 years the Golden Lion returns to Italy and for the first time in the history of the festival the award-winner is a documentary.


Main competion - Official Awards

GOLDEN LION for Best Film awarded to:

SACRO GRA by Gianfranco Rosi (Italy, France)

SILVER LION for Best Director awarded to:

Alexandros Avranas for the film MISS VIOLENCE (Greece)

GRAND JURY PRIZE awarded to:

JIAOYOU  by Tsai Ming-liang (Chinese Taipei, France)

COPPA VOLPI for Best Actor:

Themis Panou in the film MISS VIOLENCE by Alexandros Avranas (Greece)

COPPA VOLPI for Best Actress:

Elena Cotta in the film VIA CASTELLANA BANDIERA by Emma Dante (Italy, Switzerland, France)

MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD for Best Young Actor or Actress awarded to:

Tye Sheridan in the film JOE by David Gordon Green (US)


Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for the film PHILOMENA by Stephen Frears (United Kingdom)


DIE FRAU DES POLIZISTEN by Philip Gröning (Germany)

Many people may say that the victory came because the referee was partial: seemed too easy. Actually, the victorious "Holy Gra," sanctioned by the jury, chaired by Bernardo Bertolucci, is certainly surprising but far from scandalous. The film by Gianfranco Rosi,  which like all major films is difficult to define and frame, poised between documentary and fiction - marks first of all the victory of the bet placed by Barbera and his selectors, who  reserved one of the slots in the competition  to an absolute outsider. Secondly, in its own way "Holy Gra" is now history, since it is the first documentary - if we want to box it in this definition - to win the Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival. In addition, its unexpected triumph, together with that of another little gem the "Still Life" by Uberto Pasolini in the Orizzonti section, marks a form of redemption of the Italian cinema, a breath of fresh air in a year in which the signs of crisis at the Lido seemed stronger and more obvious than ever, as evidenced by the disastrous film by Gianni Amelio and the other poor Italian productions in the collateral sections.

But what are the aspects of Rosi's film that have hit the mark and that convinced the jury to think it as the best film of the selection? As I said before, its originality, its hybrid nature: Rosi not only captures "reality," not only does he "roll" himself into it like any other documentarists, but he stimulates and provokes it. His portrayal of humanity "filtered" by the GRA has the extraordinary gift of lightness and measure, because it's never boring and Rosi never places his hands on the pathetic or grotesque. Another fascinating aspect is the fact that this movie draws on the boundaries of a suspended reality, out of time, out of space, dreamy and far away from any vague stereotypical image of Rome, a sample of situations and sketches which also have undoubtedly  a veil of purity reminiscent of Pasolini.


These aspects can be summarized by a more general consideration: "Sacred Gra" is a film that "risks," and tries to say something non-trivial involving using a new kind of language, so strong and not obvious, using not immediate forms yet winning. This willingness to take risks and going beyond the clichés of what already has been mentioned is the great strength of this film. 
And here is the place Italian cinema must restart from.

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