“The Shape of Water” by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro was awarded the Golden Lion as best film at the 74th Venice Film Festival, which closed Saturday evening.
The movie is a fantasy romance about a mute woman who falls for a mysterious, amphibious creature captured in water depths, and subjected to a secret experiment by the U.S. military.
With Sally Hawkins playing the main character, the story is set in the United States in the early 1960s, against the backdrop of the Cold War era.
“There is a moment in every storyteller’s life, no matter what age you are, when you risk it all, and do something different,”
Del Toro said at the awarding ceremony.
Del Toro also encouraged peers from Latin America to pursue their dream.
“As Mexican, I want to dedicate this prize to every young Mexican filmmaker, or Latin American filmmaker, who is dreaming of doing something in the fantastic genre, but is told it cannot be done. It can be done,” he added.
“All I know is that if you remain pure, and stay with your faith -whatever you have faith in, and in my case is monsters – eventually things will go right.”
Israeli director Samuel Maoz was awarded the Silver Lion-Grand Jury Prize for “Foxtrot,” the story of an Israeli couple grieving for the loss of their soldier son. Maoz won the Golden Lion here in 2009 with “Lebanon.”
The Silver Lion for best director went to French Xavier Legrand with his family drama “Jusqu’a la Garde” (Custody), which also won the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film.
British Martin McDonagh received the Best Screenplay Award for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which starred Frances McDormand playing the role of a grieving and enraged mother who loses her daughter, and resorts to drastic steps to find justice.
The Special Jury Prize went to Australian Warwick Thornton for his drama “Sweet Country” set in the Australian outback.
Charlotte Rampling in the film “Hannah” by Italian Andrea Pallaoro, and Kamel El Basha in “The Insult” by Lebanese Ziad Doueiri, won the Volpi Cups as best actress and best actor in the festival.
The festival’s Horizons competition devoted to new cinema trends awarded best film to music biography “Nico, 1988” by Italian Susanna Nicchiarelli.
Finally, in the first ever competition launched for Virtual Reality works, a specific jury led by director John Landis bestowed the Best VR Award on short animation movie “Arden’s Wake” by American Eugene YK Chung.
Installation “La Camera Insabbiata” by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang won the Best VR Experience Award, and short film “Bloodless” by South Korean filmmaker Gina Kim won the Best VR Story Award.
Overall, 21 world premieres competed for the Golden Lion this year, while 22 works run out of competition, and another 19 in the Horizons section.