Sat. Oct 16th, 2021

In a dramatic drama, viewers got the impression that the young woman was desperate to arrange a termination in the 1960s, which could mean a prison sentence or a death.

Audrey Diwan’s L’Evenement, or Happening, a film about illegal abortions in France from the 1960s, won the top prize of the Venetian Film Festival, the Golden Lion.

The dramatic drama impressed viewers with the portrayal of a young woman who was desperate to arrange a termination, at a time when it could mean a prison sentence or a death, to continue her studies.

“I made this movie with anger, with desire, with my stomach, my gut, my heart and my head,” Diwan said on Saturday when she accepted the award.

L’Evenement is the second French film to win a major festival since Julia Ducournau’s serial murder film Titane won the Palme D’Or in Cannes in July.

In a strong night for filmmakers, the best director went to the famous New Zealand writer Jane Campion for her emotionally complex Western The Power of the Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

And Best Screenplay was awarded to Maggie Gyllenhaal for her directorial debut The Lost Daughter, a relentless look at the struggles to strike a balance between career and motherhood, starring British Oscar winner Olivia Colman.

French director Audrey Diwan (L) embraces French Romanian actress Anamaria Vartolomei after receiving the Golden Lion [Filippo Monteforte/ AFP]

The glamorous festival on the beach of Lido in Venice came alive again this year after a tranquil event in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with stars returning and a strong series of international films.

Second place Silver Lion goes to beloved Italian director Paolo Sorrentino for his strikingly personal The Hand of God about his youth in the southern city of Naples, which also earned the award for newcomer to young star Filippo Scotti.

But it was hard to ignore the gender theme in many movies.

The festival concluded with The Last Duel, in a competition, a medieval suspense drama starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, which weighed heavily on the message of historical injustice to women.

Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, meanwhile, turned Swinging Sixties London’s misogyny into a horrible flicker.

One woman destined to make headlines in the coming months is Kristen Stewart, who captivated critics with her turn as Princess Diana in Spencer.

But it was Spanish megastar Penelope Cruz who took home the best actress award in Venice for her latest collaboration with veteran author Pedro Almodovar.

Parallel Mothers is a surprisingly political twist for the flamboyant filmmaker, who explores the trauma of the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, along with the story of two mothers sharing a maternity ward.

Cruz had a busy festival, also starring alongside Antonio Banderas as egomaniac filmmakers in the official competition, who mercilessly took up their own profession.

The award for best actor was less expected, after Philippine star John Arcilla for the crime thriller On the Job: The Missing 8.

Spanish actress Penelope Cruz poses with the Coppa Volpi she received as best actress in Madres Paralelas (Parallel Mothers) [Filippo Monteforte/ AFP]

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