Venice Film Fest 2016: The Woman Who Left Wins Top Award, Gold Lion

venice-film-festival-logoThe Woman Who Left, a revenge drama by Filipino director Lav Diaz, about the struggle of a wrongly convicted schoolteacher in the outside world after 30 years behind bars, is the winner of the 73rd Venice Film Fest’s Golden Lion.


Shot in black and white and lasting nearly four hours, The Woman Who Left is a powerful moral study.

“This is for my country, for the Filipino people, for our struggle and the struggle of humanity,” said Diaz, as he thanked the jury headed by Sam Mendes.

Tom Ford-directed romantic noir Nocturnal Animals, set in the L.A. art scene and the Texas criminal underworld, took the fest’s Jury Grand Prize.

Best director donors were split between Mexican helmer Amat Escalante’s eclectic mix of naturalistic drama and sci-fi erotica, The Untamed, and Veteran Russian auteur Andrei Konchalovsky’s Holocaust drama Paradise.

The Special Jury Prize went to The Bad Batch, a dystopian fairy tale set in a Texas wasteland by Iranian-American Ana Lily Amirpour.

Best Actress: Emma Stone

Emma Stone scooped the best actress prize for her role as Mia, an aspiring actress and playwright with a passion for the magic of old movie stars,” in Damien Chazelle’s musical “La La Land,” itself a tribute to old Hollywood, which opened the fest on a decidedly positive note.

The best actor prize went to Argentinian actor Oscar Martinez for his role as a Nobel-winning author who returns to his native village for inspiration in directorial duo Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn’s The Distinguished Citizen (“El ciudadano ilustre”), a comedy about art, fame, and petty provincial jealousy.

Jackie, directed by Chilean director Pablo Larrain and written by Noah Oppenheim won the best screenplay nod. Starring Natalie Portman as  First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, it reconstructs the four-day period right after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

“One of the things I like most about the Venice Film Festival, and all festivals — and something I didn’t really understand from the outside — is that we can only give one award per movie,” Mendes said.