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Alfonso Cuaron's Roma wins Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival 2018


Story by Jack Foley

ALFONSO Cuaron’s labour of love Roma has won the prestigious Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival (2018).

The prize was given to him by jury president and friend Guillermo del Toro, who joked that he wasn’t sure if he could pronounce his name.

And the win continued a remarkable run of victories for filmmakers of Mexican descent given that Cuaron himself previously conquered the Lido in 2013 with Gravity, ahead of a run of seven Academy Awards.

While last year, del Toro took home the Golden Lion for The Shape of Water, before also going on to win best picture at the Oscars.

Compatriot Alejandro G Inarritu previously premiered Birdman in Venice in 2014 before going on to win best picture at the Oscars.

Roma is a semi-autobiographical black and white film about his early upbringing in 1970s Mexico City, as seen through the eyes of his housekeeper, Cleo.

The film is predominantly due for release on streaming giant Netflix, although a theatrical run has not been ruled out, particularly as it may strengthen its potential for an awards run.

The Venice Film Festival has, recently, been seen as a major launch pad for potential award winners and this year’s line-up was no exception. Hence, another strong potential contender in the wake of Venice is Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, a period drama about the politic and romantic inner workings of a royal court.

The film claimed the grand jury prize, while Olivia Colman also won the Volpi Cup for best actress for her performance as Queen Anne.

Willem Dafoe, meanwhile, won the Volpi Cup for best actor for taking on the role of tormented artist Vincent van Gogh in Julien Schnabel’s non-traditional biopic At Eternity’s Gate, which is also getting a lot of Oscar buzz for Dafoe in what many critics are calling the role of his career.

Joel and Ethan Coen won best screenplay for their Western, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, another Netflix title. Leading man Tim Blake Nelson accepted the award on their behalf and described them as “two of the most decent and generous people I know”.

A second Western, The Sisters Brothers, claimed another big prize for director Jacques Audiard: the Silver Lion for Best Director. The film stars John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed in what marks Audiard’s English-language debut.

Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, the only female-directed film in competition, took home the special jury prize. It stars Aisling Franciosi as a young Irish convict who hunts the man who wronged her with the help of an aboriginal tracker (played by Baykali Ganambarr).

Ganambarr also won the Marcello Mastroianni actor award for best new talent.

The main winners at a glance…

Golden Lion
Roma, dir. Alfonso Cuaron

Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize
The Favourite, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos

Silver Lion Best Director
The Sisters Brothers, dir. Jacques Audiard

Volpi Cup for Best Actress
Olivia Colman in The Favourite, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos

Volpi Cup for Best Actor
Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate, dir. Julien Schnabel

Best Screenplay Award
Joel & Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Special Jury Prize
The Nightingale, dir. Jennifer Kent

Marcello Mastroianni Award
Baykali Ganambarr for The Nightingale, dir. Jennifer Kent