Saturday, September 8, 2012

'The Master' wins big at Venice ... and it could have been bigger - Los Angeles Times

South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk’s intense mother-son relationship drama "Pieta" was awarded the Venice Film Festival’s highest honor, the Golden Lion Award, on Saturday. The Silver Lion Award, the prize for directing, went to Paul Thomas Anderson for "The Master," while the film's stars, Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, shared the best acting honors. Hadas Yaron won the actress award for her role in the Israeili film "Fill the Void."

"I put my suit on in the bathroom, so please don't judge," Hoffman told the assembled reporters and photographers. Phoenix was in Toronto, where "The Master" screened Friday night at the film festival for a loudly appreciative audience.

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A special jury prize was awarded to Austrian director Ulrich Seidl for his controversial exploration of religion and oppression, “Paradise: Faith." In a confusing initial announcement, the Silver Lion and special jury prize winners were reversed. 

Announcing the awards, Venice jury head Michael Mann took pains to point out that new rules limited the jury to two awards per film. Sources close to the jury say that Mann and crew wanted to give both the Golden and Silver Lion awards to "The Master" as well as the co-honors to its stars, but couldn't because of the restrictions.

But they clearly went out of their way to give the film as much recognition as possible.

Anderson's intense character study of the relationship between the leader of a fledgling religious movement and his impulsive disciple has been building off-the-charts buzz at Venice and Toronto and pop-up screenings in the U.S. in advance of its arrival in theaters Friday.

"The Master" won one other honor as well: the FIPRESCI critics award for best film in competition.

Olivier Assayas' sweeping, loosely autobiographical political drama, "Something in the Air", won for screenplay. Fabrizio Falco won the Mastroianni Award for best young actor -- for two films, "It Was the Son" and "Dormant Beauty."

Belgian director Frederic Fonteyne's "Tango Libre," a drama about a woman's complex relationships with three men, took the Orizzonti jury prize.


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