The talent of Penelope Cruz has given birth to a prodigious result. And unique: she is the first Spanish interpreter to win the Volpi Cup for best actress at the Venice festival. After all, he offered the jury up to two reasons for presenting him with the award. He obtained it, this Saturday, for his extraordinary performance in Parallel mothersby Pedro Almodóvar. She herself assured that the role of Janis – a wounded but unshakable woman, who cares for a newborn daughter as she struggles to exhume her grandfather – was “perhaps the most difficult” of an impressive career.
So much so that she is even capable of overshadowing herself: her other performance that was seen at the Mostra would also have deserved an award. On Official competition, by Argentines Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, gets into the shoes of a peculiar film director and makes the viewer forget the famous face behind the character. Not for nothing, Cruz headed all the pools to win the recognition. The Golden Lion, on the other hand, surprised the majority of forecasts: it won The event, the crude abortion film by Lebanese-born French director Audrey Diwan.
Diwan regretted that every time a movie talks about this topic “it becomes topical.” Still, in the XXI century. “I made this film with anger, with desire, with my guts,” he added. You can see it in the feature film, based on the homonymous book where Annie Ernaux recounts her odyssey to voluntarily interrupt her pregnancy, aged 23, in a France where it was still forbidden. Diwan, the sixth woman to win the highest prize in 78 editions of the festival, planted on the screen the most unforgettable images of the contest: the representation of an abortion. Dramatic, relentless. No frills, no ellipsis. Real. The film is likely to remain in the memory of anyone who sees it. Like its protagonist, Anamaria Vartolomei, it will end up among the talents to follow. “She’s not the actress, she’s the movie,” Diwan said. On the eve, in fact, she was considered the only possible rival for Penelope Cruz. But the Venice jury must always take tradition into account in their calculations: only one award is given per film. Paradoxically, for example, performance of its protagonist complicated the options for Almodóvar and his Parallel mothers.
“It is an honor. Here we are, celebrating the cinema. Thanks Pedro, this is 100% yours. Your impeccable work, your dedication are so hard to find these days. I adore you, ”said Cruz, with the Volpi Cup in his hands. The actress also dedicated the award to her family, her husband, actor Javier Bardem, her children, and the rest of the cast of Parallel mothers. And it ended with a special thank you: “To my mother, Encarna, the best teacher and friend; and my mother-in-law, Pilar Bardem ”. And he shared a memory with the second, who died a few months ago. At the end of the last conversation between the two, Bardem said: “I love you.” And then he added two more words: “Volpi Cup.” “It goes for the two of them and all the mothers,” Cruz explained.
The triumph in Venice increases, incidentally, speculation in the face of another award. Magazine Variety already placed it among the favorites for the Oscar. There is time, until March 27. And, in between, are the Goya, on February 12. For now, it is not heresy to affirm that his performance is even more complex than the one that gave him the Hollywood statuette in 2009, for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
The award, then, went to the best supporting performer. On Parallel mothersOn the other hand, Cruz dominates practically every shot. And it offers a masterclass in emotion and truth on screen. Neither excessive nor cold: it always nails feelings to the surface. A complex, painful area, even for the interpreter herself, who admits to living her work intensely. But, perhaps for that reason, even more moving. The film mixes two stories: on the one hand, Janis and Ana (Milena Smit) meet in a hospital room, before their delivery. The first, fear-proof, celebrates a miracle, when it was not expected; the other, very young, lives the wait with terror and doubts. Both are alone, but their existences will end up together. As she looks to the future, Janis also does not forget the past: she is working to initiate the exhumation of a mass grave in her village, where her grandfather and many others were executed in 1936. Perhaps the award will also serve to remember the second pillar of the film: historical memory.
The truth is that, after the Goya for Return, and the award for best actress at the Cannes festival, shared with the entire female cast of the same film, Cruz’s collaboration with Almodóvar resulted in another award. And it follows in the wake of Antonio Banderas, protagonist of the previous film by the filmmaker, Pain and glory, and awarded for it at Cannes. Cruz also accesses an exclusive club that, at the moment, only she and her husband make up. They are the only Spanish performers to have won the Volpi de la Mostra Cup, the oldest film festival in the world.
Great prizes, great authors
One day, when he was just a teenager, Paolo Sorrentino lost everything. His parents, due to a domestic accident, and his youth. Soon after, he left Naples, went to Rome, and became director. He accumulated applause, a personal style, a mixture of irony, excess and beauty, and even an Oscar for The great beauty. And at last he felt ready to film that pain. No prize will give you back what fate took from you. But It was the hand of God, his most intimate film, and the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize are a tribute to the family he was fired too soon. So much so that the filmmaker was moved. He remembered his wife and children, the film crew and, of course, Maradona. And he shared: “On the day of my parents’ funeral, the school principal sent only four classmates to represent the whole class. It made me feel awful. But it doesn’t matter anymore because the whole class came today, it’s you ”. Before launching himself into his most risky project, Sorrentino also took off his protection net: he resigned from several of the film labels that made him so famous. It was the hands of God He is not obsessed with looking for beautiful shots and focuses on a young man (Filippo Scotti, Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Newcomer Performer), rather than his gallery of men in decline. It does maintain the most characteristic of cinema, and of the way of being, of the director: the union of the sublime and the earthly.
Jane Campion said these days that she missed the movies. Above all, the challenge of condensing a story in two hours, with synthesis, but without losing emotion. It turns out that the seventh art also had nostalgia for the creator: it was shown today Saturday with the Silver Lion for the best direction for The power of the dog his return to the big screen 12 years after Bright Star. Based on the book of the same name, by Thomas Savage, the filmmaker builds a tense and delicate story, set in 1925 in the prairies of Montana. Huge, but overwhelming for those who feel different, for any man who does not meet the stereotype of the cowboy. The film raises concerns and questions, although perhaps the main dilemma is more general: how much cinema has lost by giving up Campion for so long.
The other Volpi Cup, for best actor, recognized John Arcilla, protagonist of On the Job: The Missing 8, the thriller of 208 minutes of the Filipino Erik Matti that divided the festival. A good part of the contest, in fact, did not even reach the end of the screening. The interpreter plays a radio host with too close ties to politics and the mayor of the municipality of La Paz. When eight journalists are assassinated by the system that he embraces, however, the man begins to rethink his blind adherence. And, throughout the film, he opens his eyes. The award was collected by Matti, in the absence of the interpreter. Perhaps not even he expected an award that had stronger candidates.
Also surprising was the recognition for the best screenplay for Maggie Gyllenhaal. The actress’s first film behind the camera, The lost daughter, adapts the novel by Elena Ferrante. It is true that his debut work was praised by international critics, but it is also true that it hardly adds anything of its own to the merits of the book. Perhaps the main one is to fuel another necessary debate: the plot centers on a woman who loves her daughters, but also feels the desire to separate from them, to have her space. Unthinkable, of course, unless a man does. “I tried to create a shared experience. I wanted to see what happens if you put these truths and emotions on a screen, ”said the filmmaker. And he trusted that his feature length generates conversations in the rooms and homes where it is seen.
With The hole, Michelangelo Frammartino again immersed himself in a film, 11 years after The four times. He did it very seriously, since his camera dived through the 681 meters of the Calabrian cave Abismo del Bifurto. Accompanied by professionals from the sector, he filmed a fascinating descent between rocks and darkness to the bottom of the cave. And questions that each one must guess in the film. He surfaced with a special jury award.
There was, throughout the night, another Spanish victory: Blanca Li’s Paris Ball won the choreographer and dancer the award for the best virtual reality experience for its interactive content, in the section to this of the Mostra. And there were awards for Latin American cinema: Bolivian Kiro Russo received the special award from the jury in the Horizons section, for The great move. AND The bones, by the Chileans Cristobal León and Joaquín Cociña, was awarded in the same section, among the short films. More generally, all achievers can celebrate with special pride. Because many agree that the best edition of the festival in years has just closed. Winning always has merit. But this time, even a little more.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.