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February 25, 2021

Venice Winners: ‘A Pigeon Sat On A Branch’ Takes Golden Lion

The Venice jury gave its Golden Lion to a bird, but it wasn’t the particular bird many were expecting. Alejandro G Inarritu’s opening night hit Birdman was shut out of the awards, according to deadline.com. The Golden Lion instead went to Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence. The metaphysical film is the final leg of a trilogy about what it means to be a human being. It carries on from 2000’s Songs From The Second Floor and 2007’s You, The Living. Pigeon was well-received by critics here so it’s not a total surprise – and this was a movie folks had been waiting for since it didn’t turn up on the Cannes roster after Andersson’s previous two debuted there. Jury member Tim Roth said he liked Birdman and told the press corps of its omission amongst the prizes, “There is nothing like seeing Michael Keaton kicking ass, not in a batsuit but in a birdsuit. (Birdman) is beautfully part of a very strange and quite wonderful selection.” He added about the glowing reviews the film had received, “Something you need to remember is that most of us don’t read reviews (during the festival). I don’t know what you write. It doesn’t mean anything” to the jury.
In other prizes, Girls’ Adam Driver surprised as the Volpi Cup Best Actor winner for Hungry Hearts. The Italian film by Saverio Costanzo is in English and follows a couple in New York who struggle over their child’s upbringing. Driver was not in town for the win, but sent a message of gratitude. His co-star, Alba Rohrwacher, won the Best Actress Volpi Cup. She’s the sister of director Alice Rohrwacher who won the Cannes Grand Jury Prize for The Wonders, in which Alba also appears.
A year after they were first allowed to be included in competition, a documentary scooped another major award. Joshua Oppenheimer’s extremely well-received The Look Of Silence, which is a companion piece to Oscar nominated The Act Of Killing, won the Grand Jury Prize. Oppenheimer sent a taped message from a Chicago airport saying he’d wanted to come back to the Lido, but got stranded due to thunderstorms. He said the reaction to the film in Venice had helped begin the process of healing for his lead subject who sought out his brother’s killers in the film.

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