“Lebanon, an Israeli film that recounts Israel s 1982 invasion of the Middle East country through the eyes of four soldiers in a tank, has won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.
The festival jury announced the Golden Lion and other prizes Sunday, the last day of the 11-day screening of films from around the world.
Lebanon, directed by Samuel Maoz, tells the story of Israeli paratroopers searching a hostile town. The conflict is seen through the binocular-aided eyes of those inside a tank, with their cramped quarters lending an anxious sense of claustrophobia to their viewpoint.
I know it may be naive, but I like to believe that the film I made will open people s minds and that they will ask themselves who it is that we are, Maoz, 47, said of Lebanon, shot entirely from inside an Israeli tank and written from the gut.
I dedicate this work to people all over the world that come back from the war safe and sound, the director told the audience as accepted the award from jury chairman Ang Lee. They work, get married, have children, but the memories get stuck in their souls.
Maoz was a young man when he served in the Israeli military during the invasion, which led to a long occupation of southern Lebanon. The viewing sight of the tank s gunner is the filter through which I intended to tell my emotional story, Maoz said earlier.
Garnering a near universal acclaim, film trade publication Variety has described the film, one of 25 which competed for the Golden Lion, as the boldest and best of the recent mini-wave of Israeli movies.
Ang Lee said the jurors were both quick and unanimous in choosing Lebanon and were happy not to be inside that tank which could have been any tank in any war.
Maoz told Israeli Channel 1 TV in a phone interview immediately after winning that he hoped the film helps people understand our country better, understand our society better, and the complexity of our society better.
The jury seemed to wade straight into conflicted parts of the world.
Iranian filmmaker and photographer Shirin Neshat snared the Silver Lion for best director for her feature debut with Zanan Bedoone Mardan ( Women Without Men ).
The film is set on the eve of an American-aided uprising that deposed an elected government that had nationalized the oil industry, and led to the return of the shah. Against that backdrop, four women – a prostitute, an activist, a cosmopolitan woman and a traditional young girl – fight for individual freedom and independence, winding up together at an idyllic orchard in the countryside.
But Neshat said the film aimed at providing encouragement to democracy-loving people in her country a half century after the events in the film.
The movie is about the courage of the women and the people of Iran to take their lives into their own hands, she said after winning the Silver Lion.
I knew when I was making the film, I was taking a risk. I knew nothing about cinema. But she added, I took a risk so the fundamental message is about courage. There is a great value in that struggle and we must fight to evolve as a society and as women.
The Italian news agency Apcom quoted her as adding: I hope that the people are given what they need – peace and democracy.
British actor Colin Firth took the best actor award for his role as gay professor mourning the death of his partner in A Single Man , Tom Ford s adaptation of Christopher Isherwood s landmark 1964 novel of the same name. Fashion designer Tom Ford made his director s debut with the movie.
Firth said on accepting the Volpi Cup: I m here for the gift that Tom Ford gave me.
The 48-year-old fashion designer had a cause that he put in my hands, so it became a very important thing for me as well, Firth said.
A Single Man also won the unofficial Queer Golden Lion for movies with gay themes or content, announced Friday. Established in 2006, the award is independent of the Venice festival.
Ford told AFP earlier: I didn t want this to be a gay film. It s a universal film, about love and connection … The character happens to be gay, so what?
A comedy, Soul Kitchen, by German-Turkish director Fatih Akin, won the Special Jury Prize. The film represented a departure from the more serious tones set in Akin s 2004 Berlin Golden Bear winner Head On and 2007 s The Edge of Heaven, which won the screenplay award at the Cannes film festival.
The best actress award went to Russian Kseniya Rappoport, 35, for her role in the crime drama La Doppia Ora (The Double Hour) by Giuseppe Capotondi.
Cult filmmaker Todd Solondz won the award for best screenplay for his neurotic dark comedy Life during Wartime which reprises the main characters of his 1998 film Happiness.
“This is so much fun – to win a prize it makes you like an 11-year-old again- I confess nothing’s better, Solondz said.
The tale of intersecting love stories explores tortured consciences and self-destructive lives in a heavily Jewish southern Florida locale where people are peripherally aware that the nation is at war.
Sylvie Olive, production designer for Jaco Van Dormael’s futuristic drama “Mr Nobody, received the Osella award for Best Technical Contribution.
The Luigi De Laurentiis Lion of the future award was given to Filipino director Pepe Diokno’s “Engkwentro (Clash).
Jasmine Trinca won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for best young actor or actress for her role in Michele Placido’s Italian production “Il Grande Sogno.
A special mention was given to Negli Occhi by Daniele Anzellotti and Francesco Del Grosso. -Agencies