The Venice Film Festival, Italy’s most glamorous film festival, organized by La Biennale di Venezia, returned in style to Venice’s beachfront Lido, with Italian and international stars posing on the red carpet once again for the joy of their fans, after a low-key event last year due to the pandemic.
The festival, which opened on September 1 and closed on September 11, awarded three prizes to Italy: Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino won the Grand Jury prize (Silver Lion) for “The Hand of God,” an autobiographical film about growing up in Naples as a teen in the 1980s; the same film earned 21-year-old Naples native Filippo Scotti, playing the role of teenager Sorrentino, the Marcello Mastroianni award for best new young actor. And the Special Jury Prize went to Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Frammartino for “Il buco” (‘The hole’), a film that recounts the exploration of the Abisso del Bifurto, a cave in the Pollino National Park in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
Sorrentino received nine minutes of applause after the “The Hand of God” (E’ stata la mano di Dio, original title) was screened on Thursday night. Sorrentino’s youth was deeply scarred by the sudden loss of his parents, who died in their sleep due to carbon monoxide fumes in their house in the mountains. Sorrentino had stayed behind in Naples to attend a soccer game after Maradona had recently joined the Napoli team. The director said in an interview that he was physically saved by Maradona and the Napoli he led.
Sorrentino's 2013 film “La Grande Bellezza” (The Great Beauty) won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
There were four more Italian movies running for the Golden Lion: Mario Martone's “Qui Rido Io,” Gabriele Mainetti's "Freaks Out,” Michelangelo Frammartino's “Il buco” and “America Latina,” a thriller by brothers Fabio and Damiano D’Innocenzo.
The Golden Lion for Best Film went to “L’Evenement” (Happening) by female French director Audrey Diwan, in a festival’s edition where women and women’s issues seemed to be at the center of many of the movies presented.
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho was appointed as the President of the Jury, marking the first time a South Korean director has been picked as the Lido's top juror.
Success at the Venice Film Festival is usually a good predictor of how a movie will do in the following film festivals’ season, and especially at the Academy Awards. The last four winners — “Nomadland”, “Joker”, “Roma” and “The Shape of Water” — all won Oscar awards.
To comply with Covid-19 precautions, rules included mandatory masks, vaccine passes and 50-percent capacity in the cinemas.