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January 18, 2021
ARTS & LEISURE

Italian documentary “Sacro GRA” wins top Venice Film Festival award

In a night of unexpected winners, Gianfranco Rosi’s study of the denizens
of a famous highway circling Rome, “Sacro GRA,” was awarded the Venice Film Festival’s highest honor, the Golden Lion Award.

Italian Gianfranco Rosi’s fresh documentary “Sacro GRA,” about people living on the fringe along the ring road around Rome, is the winner of the Venice Film Festival’s 70th edition which wrapped on an innovative note Saturday and saw Italy scooping the Golden Lion after going empty-handed for 15 years, informs Variety.com.
This edition marked the first time documentaries were included in the main Venice competition. “Sacro GRA,” with its intriguing slices of humanity on the edge, resonated with jury president Bernardo Bertolucci who had said at the start of the festival that he wanted to lionize a film that “surprised” him.
At the post-awards presser Bertolucci said that “the entire jury felt the poetic force of this film,” which he called “pure and Franciscan” in the way it approaches its characters. Most in the audience seemed to agree, though there were a few boos.
The Silver Lion Award, the prize for directing, went to Greece’s Alexandros Avranas for his story of the apparent suicide of an 11-year-old girl, “Miss Violence.” The film was also awarded a special jury prize.
The Grand Jury Prize, a recent addition to the festival’s awards, was given to Taiwan’s “Stray Dogs,” directed by Tsai Ming-liang. The film, a slow meditation on time and family with long drawn-out takes, is considered a step apart from traditional filmmaking.
Acting awards went to Themis Panou for his work in “Miss Violence” and Elena Cotta for “A Street in Palermo.”
Many festival-watchers had thought the best actress prize might go to Judi Dench for her well-received work in “Philomena.” That film did earn the best screenplay award, however, for Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.
Tye Sheridan won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for best young actor for his role in “Joe,” a film starring Nicolas Cage as an ex-con.
Showing his unique sensibilities, Academy Award-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci headed the jury for the 70th annual affair, which began Aug. 28 and wrapped Saturday.
Films in competition included Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin,” starring Scarlett Johansson; Peter Landesman’s “Parkland” about the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination; the Errol Morris documentary “The Unknown Known” about Donald Rumsfeld; “Night Moves,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning; and actor James Franco’s directorial effort “Child of God.”

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