68th Venice Film Festival Wrap Up

The 68th Venice Film Festival has wrapped up, with Aleksandr Sokurov‘s film Faust taking the top prize of the Golden Lion for Best Picture. The Russian director was given the award by the head of the year’s jury Darren Aranofsky. This film is the fourth in the director’s Goethe’s classic tragedy tetrology, following Molokh, Telets and The Sun. Faust however is the first in thet tetrology about a mythical person. His others films Moloch, was about Hitler, Taurus, about Lenin and The Sun, about Emperor Hirohito.

Irish actor Michael Fassbender won the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor for British director Steve McQueen’s second directional piece Shame, which also stared Carey Mulligan.

Mulligan was widley expected to pick up the Best Actress award, however that went to Deanie Yip for the film Tao jie (A Simple Life), by Chinese director Ann Hui.

Some of the other award winners include; Robbie Ryan, who won the Osella for the Best Cinematography for Andrea Arnold‘s Wuthering Heights and Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido who took home the Marcello Mastroianni Award which is given to the best young actor or actress.

Al Pacino, who presented his documentary/feature film/thesis film on Oscar Wilde and his play of Salome, titled Wilde Salome, won the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award, for his life time achievement in film. Pacino’s passion project that took over half a decade to make, and stars The Tree Of Life star Jessica Chastain, was received incredibley well at the festival.

Other films that received high praise include the previously mentioned Shame, directed by Steve McQueen, George Clooney’s The Ideas Of March, Roman Polanski’s Carnage, Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, which also received rave reviews for the films star Gary Oldman, and David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method.

The festival also held the first screening of the directional debut of directing legend Michael Mann’s daughter Ami Canaan Mann and her film, Texas Killing Fields.

One film that did not however get received so kindly at Venice was Madonna‘s second directional film W.E. which stared Abbie Cornish, Natalie Dormer, Andres Riseborough, James D’Arcy and Oscar Issac. The film, which details the “affair between King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson”, was met with very poor reviews.

James Franco premiered his latest directional film Sal, which chronicles the final hours of the life of actor Sal Mineo. Unfortunately it was not met with the greatest reception. The character passion project of Franco’s, which was apparently shot in nine days, was criticised for looking low budget. However, Val Lauren’s portrayal of the late actor was said to be superb, along with Francos direction and vision which clearly shows the artist’s passion for the now all but forgotten actor.

Franco’s second piece at Venice was a video installation piece titled Rebel, which was received quite well. The project which features a collaboration of many artistis was inspired by Nicholas Ray’s classic Rebel Without A Cause.

The installation features two never-made scenes from Ray’s original draft of Rebel Without A Cause, one featuring a man on fire, and the second, a woman being whipped. The two performances are played side by side in one continuous 20-minute take and the overall effect is has been been described as “beautiful and harrowing.”

Venice is really the first of the major end of year festivals which begins to give us an idea of how this year’s awards season will shape up. From the reports so far, and though it is early, we will likely see Michael Fassbender and/or Garey Oldman take out one or two of the five best actor slots at the Oscars.

Both have secured great time slots for US release. However, Shame, which features full frontal nudity, may not make the Oscars cut, as it will surely secure a NC-17 rating and McQueen has stated he has no plans to make a “softer” cut to make the film more commercially viable.

It is still early in the awards race but after Venice, we have a better idea of how things may turn out.

What did you think of the Venice Film Festival, share your thoughts in the comments below.