Golden lion for “Nomadland”, by Sino-American Chloé Zhao

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Sino-American director Chloé Zhao, 38, won the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, September 12. Nomadland tells the story of the new nomads, the neglected of American society. A strong signal for cinema and women directors around the world.

Tears of joy shared in the big room of the Cinema Palace in Venice. La Mostra has shown the whole world that it is possible to have a great festival in the time of the coronavirus while welcoming the public and magnificent works. ” We can say we did. We are not proud to have been the first, but satisfied to have shown that it is possible “, Thus summarized Roberto Cicutto, the president of the Venice Biennale, the adventure of the festival.

A Golden Lion in a van

With Chloé Zhao, it is the first time in the history of the oldest international film festival that a Golden Lion winner has thanked the Mostra while sitting in a van. Blocked in the United States, her video message from a van in Pasadena, Calif., Was a nod to her film’s story.
Nomadland is a road movie about a special category of abandoned people in American society: the new nomads.

Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand plays Fern, first a widow, then fired. She is one of those homeless people living in a cobbled together van and surviving on “bullshit jobs” or a few dollars in retirement. Tragic stories resonate, breathtaking landscapes pass by. A new community is being built, along the roads or on social networks (#vanlife). Without a tearful note, with a lot of humility and introspection. A poetic and unexpected portrait on and with the new “pioneers” of poverty.

► To read also: The “miracle” of the Venice Film Festival 2020: very good films and hope

Chinese-American director Chloé Zhao on September 11, 2020, during the presentation of “Nomadland” in the presence of the new nomads, organized by Fox Searchlight and The Telluride Film Festival, in Rose Bowl, Pasadena (California).

Chinese-American director Chloé Zhao on September 11, 2020, during the presentation of “Nomadland” in the presence of the new nomads, organized by Fox Searchlight and The Telluride Film Festival, in Rose Bowl, Pasadena (California). © Amy Sussman/Getty

Since the creation of the Venice Film Festival in 1932, Chloé Zhao is the fifth woman and the first of Chinese origin to win the Golden Lion, after the German Margarethe von Trotta (The Years of Lead, 1981), the Frenchwoman Agnès Varda (No shelter, no law, 1985), the Indian Mira Nair (The Marriage of the Monsoons, 2001) and the American Sofia Coppola (Somewhere, 2010).

The Chinese-American filmmaker, born in 1982, spent her childhood in Beijing before moving to the United States to first study political science in Massachusetts, before turning to film training in New York. From his second feature film, The Rider, she caused a sensation at the Cannes Film Festival where in 2015 she won the Art Cinema prize for best film at the Directors’ Fortnight.


British actress Vanessa Kirby, Volpi Cup Prize for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival 2020 for her role in “Pieces of a Woman” by Kornel Mundruczo. © Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Vanessa Kirby, the star of the Lido

From the start, the Venice Film Festival promised to be a unique edition, with two Golden Lions awarded to two women for their film careers, the Hong Kong director Ann Hui and the British actress Tilda Swinton, with eight films by women over 18 vying for the Golden Lion, and all with a female jury president, Australian-American actress Cate Blanchett.

And among the many extraordinary actresses, it was the Briton Vanessa Kirby, 32, who was distinguished with the Volpi Cup for best female performance for her touching play in Pieces of a Woman. In this extraordinary film, she gives substance to a half-hour sequence shot of a home birth to then face the greatest tragedy of her life …

The story was written and directed by the Hungarian Kornel Mundruczo and his wife Kata Wéber, who personally experienced this tragedy: losing a child during childbirth. Vanessa Kirby, to prepare for this role unlike any other, attended a real childbirth in London. She dedicated her award ” to all mothers who have lost their babies “And in Venice which has” allowed to share this story that is rarely told ».

The years of lead in Italy

Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino received the Volpi Cup for best male performance. In Our Father, he plays the role of Alfonso, a father victim of a terrorist commando. He very subtly embodies the vulnerability, anchored forever in his life and those of his wife and son. A strong, magnetic and heroic figure in this film directed by Italian filmmaker Claudio Noce, who tells his own story, lived with his father in 1976, during the years of lead in Italy.

The Grand Jury Prize for Michel Franco

With his shocking film, Nine Order, the Mexican Michel Franco wins the Silver Lion, the Grand Jury Prize. It plunges us into an ultra-violent class struggle. The beginning reminds a little Parasite, but the Mexican director is not limited to a dystopian story at the family level. It spreads disaster, violence and despair across a whole country. The new order brought about by a popular revolt will also be unjust and violent, but more totalitarian.

« I started the story six years ago and I had no idea how close reality had come to my story: the “yellow vests” in France, the movements in Chile, Hong Kong, Black Lives Matter. I am not a visionary. You have to be blind not to see that you are going into a dead end, with more and more inequalities. If we continue to ignore the poor, we will come to this situation. »

Mexican director Michel Franco, Silver Lion, Grand Jury Prize for “Nueve Orden” at the Venice Film Festival 2020.
Mexican director Michel Franco, Silver Lion, Grand Jury Prize for “Nueve Orden” at the Venice Film Festival 2020.
Mexican director Michel Franco, Silver Lion, Grand Jury Prize for “Nueve Orden” at the Venice Film Festival 2020. © Tiziana FABI / AFP

In the “Orizzonti” section, Moroccan singer Khansa Batma receives the award for Best Female Performance for Zanka Contact, by Moroccan director Ismaël El Iraki. Yahya Mahayni, meanwhile, won the award for Best Male Performance for The man who sold his skin, by the Tunisian Kaouther Ben Hania.


Rajae (Khansa Batma) in “Zanka Contact” by Ismaël El Iraki. Venice 2020 exhibition


The main prizes awarded at the Venice Film Festival 2020 :

– Golden Lion for Best Film: Nomadland by Chloé Zhao (United States)
– Grand jury prize: New order by Michel Franco (Mexico)
– Silver Lion for Best Director: Japanese Kiyoshi Kurosawa for The sacrificed lovers
– Best Screenplay Prize: Indian Chaitanya Tamhane, screenwriter and director of The Disciple
– Special jury prize: Dear friends by Andreï Kontchalovsky (Russia)
– Best Actress Award: Briton Vanessa Kirby for her role in Pieces of a Woman by Kornel Mundruczo
– Best Actor Award: Italian Pierfrancesco Favino for his role in Our Father by Claudio Noce (Italy)
– Marcello Mastroianni Prize for best young performer: Iranian Rouhollah Zamani, a street child in Tehran, for his first role in Khorshid de Majid Majidi.

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