Venice film fest honours 'Lebanon', 'A Single Man'

14th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Accepting the award from jury chairman Ang Lee, Maoz, 47, dedicated the honour to "all the thousands of people who come back from war like me, safe and sound... but inside the memory will remain stuck in their souls.

Venice -- Two first movies won top honours at the Venice film fest Saturday, the autobiographical "Lebanon" by Israeli Samuel Maoz and Tom Ford's "A Single Man", which snagged the best actor award for Colin Firth.

"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 said of "Lebanon", shot entirely from inside an Israeli tank and written "from the gut".

Accepting the award from jury chairman Ang Lee, Maoz, 47, dedicated the honour to "all the thousands of people who come back from war like me, safe and sound... but inside the memory will remain stuck in their souls.

"I'm bowled over to be awarded this prize, the highest international distinction bestowed to date on Israeli cinema," Maoz told Israeli television after accepting the honour.

The intensely personal project tells the story of the first Lebanon war, reliving the director's own experience as a young Israeli soldier in 1982.

The viewing sight of the tank's gunner is "the filter through which I intended to tell my emotional story", Maoz said earlier.

Firth, who plays a gay professor mourning the death of his partner in Ford's adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's landmark 1964 novel, 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?"

The best actress award went to Russian Kseniya Rappoport, 35, for her role in the crime drama "La Doppia Ora" by Giuseppe Capotondi.

Also making her directorial debut was Iranian photographer and visual artist Shirin Neshat, who won the Silver Lion for best director for "Women Without Men".

The film dissects Iranian society at the time of the 1953 CIA-backed coup that overturned the nationalist government of Mohammed Mossadegh and re-installed the shah in power.

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.

"This has been a labour of love for six years," Neshat said. "This film speaks to the world and to my country," she said, ending her remarks by making a "V for victory" sign.

The 66th Mostra's special jury prize was reserved for "Soul Kitchen" by Turko-German director Fatih Akin, who served up some pure entertainment with his story of changing fortunes in a Hamburg suburb in the throes of gentrification.

And 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".

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.

AFP/Expatica

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