VENICE 2000 UPDATE: Venice Awards “Circle,” “Before Night Falls,” and Italian Hopes

VENICE 2000 UPDATE: Venice Awards "Circle," "Before Night Falls," and Italian Hopes

by A.G. Basoli

(indieWIRE/ 9.11.00) — A short and sweet awards ceremony that held
virtually no surprises closed the 57th edition of the Venice International
Film Festival
on Saturday night at the Palazzo del Cinema. Iranian director
Jafar Panahi, the expected winner of the coveted Golden Lion, did, in fact,
win with his tale of oppressed women in Iran, “The Circle.”

“Sooner or later they will have to show it in Iran,” said Panahi at the
press conference refusing to elaborate on what he endured at the hands of
Iranian censors (the film received permission to screen out of Iran only
three days prior to the festival’s start). “It was a long labor, but it is
finished. The baby is born and all I want to do is to celebrate its life,”
he added.

Julian Schnabel, on the other hand, was forthcoming about his labor of love
when asked questions at the winners’ table. Schnabel’s “Before Night Falls
took home two awards: the Volpi Cup to the film’s star Javier Bardem and a Grand Jury Prize to Schnabel, thus breaking the newly minted festival rule:
“only one prize per film.” “I’m speechless,” said Schnabel during his
acceptance speech “and it’s rare for me, because I’m always talking.” He
apparently soon recovered, going on for another five solid minutes in
Italian, English and Spanish.

Reflecting a boost for the future of Italian cinema, jurors awarded the
Prize for Best Screenplay to Marco Tullio Giordana, Monica Zappelli and
Claudio Fava for “Hundred Steps.” The film is based on the true story of
Peppino Impastato, a man in a small Sicilian town who opposed the Mafia,
refusing to walk those “one hundred steps” that separated his home from the
local Don’s. “It’s a film that goes against the usual Mafia film clichés,”
said director Marco Tullio Giordana. Earlier during the day at the
festival’s closing press conference, Barbera commented on the signs of an
awakening in Italian film. “One of the things most people complained about
was the hole between our Italian cinema and our society,” said Barbera. “So
it seems that our Italian authors may have found a language to fill that

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Challenged about the overwhelming presence of “star-directors” in the New
Territories program — a section that in previous years was dedicated to the
young, bold and unknown, Barbera responded: “We didn’t find any majorly
innovative auteurs out there, and that may be because we are at the eve of
another great innovation — meaning the technological revolution that will
affect not only the filmmaking process but all aspects of production and
distribution. And this seems to have put issues of aesthetic and formal
search on hold.”

Among other winners was a surprise Volpi Cup for best female performance to
The Goddess of 1967,” for Rose Byrne. Rod Steiger presented the Mastroianni Prize for best young performer to Megan Burns for Stephen Frear‘s “Liam.” And a special jury prize for directing went to Indian director Buddhadeb Dasgupta for “Uttara.” After much speculation about the possible winner of the prestigious De Laurentiis Prize for best first film and rumors around
Marzyieh Meshkini‘s stunning first feature “The Day I Became a Woman,” the prize was given instead to Abdel Kechiche‘s “La Faute a Voltaire,” starring Elodie Bouchez.

Jury president Atom Egoyan commented briefly regarding the process of
picking the winner: “I enjoyed it, but it was a difficult choice because the
De Laurentiis prize only goes to one film and many of the films were very
good. We were very passionate about several that I won’t mention, because it
would be unfair to the film that actually won,” said Egoyan.

After the closing night screening of Tony Gatlif‘s gypsy-themed “Vengo,”
his flamenco performers were supposed to throw a bash in the Lido’s main
square to close the festival, but upset by the poor public turnout at the
film’s screening Gatliff cancelled at the last minute, calling for an
impromptu beach party instead. Meanwhile, die-hard revelers mingled around a
buffet dinner in the Casinó to toast the winners and the next edition of the
Venice Film Festival. [A.G. Basoli]

The International Jury of the 57th Venice Film Festival announced the
following award winners:

(source: Venice Film Festival)

Milos Forman (President) , Tahar Ben Jelloun (novelist), Giuseppe Bertolucci
(director), Claude Chabrol (Director) ;Jennifer Jason Leigh (actress)
Andreas Kilb (critic) and Samira Makhmalbaf (Director) has viewed the twenty
films in competition and has assigned the following prizes:

THE GOLDEN LION for best film:

“Dayereh” (The Circle) by Jafar Panahi (Iran)


“Before Night Falls” by Julian Schnabel (US)


“Uttara” by Buddhadeb Dasgupta (India)


“Hundred Steps” by Marco Tullio Giordana (Italy)


Javier Bardem for the film “Before Night Falls” by Julian Schnabel


Rose Byrne for the film “The Goddess of 1967” by Clara Law

THE MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD (For best performance by a young actor)

Megan Burns for the film “Liam” by Stephen Frears


“La Virgen de Los Sicarios” (Our Lady of the Assassins) by Barbet Schroeder

THE DELAURENTIIS PRIZE for best first film:

The jury of the prize: President Atom Egoyan (Director), Mimmo Calopresti
(Director) Bill Khron (critic) Chiara Mastroianni (Actress) and Peter Mullan
(actor and director) has awarded the De Laurentiis Prize to the film:

“La Faute a Voltaire” (Voltaire’s Fault) by Abdel Kechiche


The jury for the short films: President Giuseppe Piccioni (director), Nina
Proll (actress) and George Bollon (critic) has assigned the following


“A Telephone Call for Genevieve Snow” by Peter Long (Australia)

And special mentions for the two shorts:

“Trajets” by Faouzi Bensa