Venice film festival 2015: Golden Lion goes to Venezuela's From Afar


The first ever Venezuelan film to be selected for competition at the has carried off the top prize. Desde Allá (From Afar), directed by Lorenzo Vigas, was given the Golden Lion by a heavyweight festival jury headed by Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron, and including directors Lynne Ramsay, Pawel Pawlikowski, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Vigas’ film was an unexpected winner, even if it carried the marque of influential Mexican scriptwriter Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, Babel) among its credits. Starring Alfredo Castro, it is about a 50 year old man who pays young men for company but no physical intimacy, and is Vigas’ directorial debut.

From Afar film still
Winner ... From Afar. Photograph: PR

On receiving his award at the multi-lingual ceremony in Venice on Saturday night, Vigas said: “This is a bit of a surprise”; before going on to invoke the spirit of the country. “In we’ve had some problems in the last few years, I hope this is going to help. We are an amazing nation, and I hope we are going to start talking to each other more.”

Another one of the top awards, the Silver Lion for best director, also went to Latin America, with Argentina’s Pablo Trapero for his well-regarded gangster-family saga El Clan (The Clan).

Two of the most popular awards of the night went to US-backed films. Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson won the second-place grand jury prize for the much-liked animated film Anomalisa, which as a “masterpiece... [that] innovates with stop-motion in ways your brain struggles to compute” in a five-star review. The Mastroianni award for best young actor/actress went to Abraham Attah, the young lead of Cary Fukunaga’s horrific child-soldier film Beasts of No Nation who was 14 when it was shot. In another glowing review, that Fukunaga brought “flair, muscular storytelling, directness and a persuasively epic sweep to this brutal, heartrending movie”, and called Attah’s performance “towering”.

The French film L’Hermine, directed by Christian Vincent and about a judge who rekindles a past relationship with a woman who unexpectedly shows up in the jury of a case his is trying, won two of the remaining major awards: best actor for Fabrice Luchini, who plays the judge, and best screenplay for Vincent. Valeria Golino completed the headline awards, the lone Italian to receive one, when she was handed the best actress award for her role in Per Amor Vostro (For Your Sake), directed by Giuseppe Gaudino.

The Orizzonti sidebar, devoted to “new trends in world cinema” also hands out its own awards, with Free in Deed, a , won the best film prize, for director Jake Mahaffy. However, won two prizes: best debut film and best director for Brady Corbet.

The sense that this edition of the Venice film festival has marked a sea-change in the way films are funded and distributed was confirmed in the spread of these awards: both Anomalisa and Free in Deed started out as crowdfunded projects (Kickstarter and Indiegogo respectively) while Beasts of No Nation represents That all these films have secured significant artistic recognition demonstrates that internet-led content can no longer be consigned to the bargain bin of cinema history.

Full list of awards

Golden Lion
From Afar dir: Lorenzo Vigas

Best director
Pablo Trapero (El Clan)

Grand jury prize
Anomalisa dir: , Duke Johnson

Special jury prize
Frenzy dir: Emin Alper

Best actor
Fabrice Luchini (L’Hermine)

Best actress
Valeria Golino (Per Amor Vostro)

Best young actor/actress
Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation)

Best screenplay
Christian Vincent (L’Hermine)

Best debut film
The Childhood of a Leader dir: Brady Corbet

Orizzonti awards

Best film
Free in Deed dir: Jake Mahaffy

Best director
Brady Corbet (Childhood of a Leader)

Special jury prize
Neon Bull dir: Gabriel Mascaro

Special prize for best actor or actress
Dominique Leborne (Tempête)

Best short
Belladonna dir: Dubravna Turic