Director Todd Phillips is taking home the Golden Lion from this year’s Venice Film Festival for his gritty, no-holds-barred take on one of the most iconic supervillains in comic book history.
The festival wrapped up its 2019 edition on Saturday after 11 nights of premieres with The Hollywood Reporter reporting the fest presented its top award to “Joker”, the origin story of Batman’s biggest nemesis, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix.
After being awarded 2019’s Golden Lion, Phillips thanked “Warner Bros. and DC for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this movie.”
RELATED: Joaquin Phoenix Says He Didn’t Base His Joker On Heath Ledger’s Famed Take
Joined onstage by Phoenix, Phillips praised the film’s star. “There is no movie without Joaquin Phoenix,” he added. “Joaquin is the fiercest and brightest and most open-minded lion I know. Thank you for trusting me with your insane talent.”
And while Roman Polanski may be embroiled in controversy due to his decades as a fugitive after being convicted of the statutory rape of a 13-year-old child, that didn’t prevent the festival’s jury from awarding the second-place Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize to the director for his new film, “An Officer And A Spy”.
When jury president Lucrecia Martel admitted she was unable to separate the artist from his art, producers of the film threatened to pull it from competition due to bias; during the festival’s opening press conference, however, she claimed that her comments had been misconstrued.
RELATED: Roman Polanski Insists ‘Most Of The People Who Harass Me Do Not Know Me’ Amid Venice Film Festival Backlash
“I have to say that it won’t be easy for me, and that’s why it’s certain that I will not attend Mr. Polanski’s gala because I represent many women who are fighting in Argentina on these types of issues. And I don’t want to have to stand up and clap,” Martel explained.
“But I think it is correct that Polanski’s film is here at this festival because it’s a dialogue we won’t give up on, and this is the best possible place to go deep on this type of discussion,” she added
Other top awards include Roy Andersson winning Silver Lion Best Director for “About Endlessness”, “Gloria Mundi” star Ariane Ascaride awarded the Volpi Cup for Best Actress and the Volpi Cup for Best Actor going to Luca Marinelli for “Martin Eden”.
RELATED: 76th Venice Film Festival To Embrace Netflix Productions
The complete list of winners from the 2019 Venice Film Festival follows:
Venice 76 Awards
Golden Lion: Todd Phillips, dir. “Joker”
Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize: “An Officer and a Spy”, dir: Roman Polanski
Silver Lion Best Director: Roy Andersson, dir. “About Endlessness”
Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Ariane Ascaride, “Gloria Mundi”
Volpi Cup for Best Actor: Luca Marinelli, “Martin Eden”
Best Screenplay Award: “No. 7 Cherry Lane”, dir. and written by: Yonfan
Special Jury Prize: “The Mafia is No Longer What it Used to Be”, dir: Franco Maresco
Marcello Mastroianni Award: Toby Wallace, “Babyteeth”, dir: Shannon Murphy
Best Film: “Atlantis”, dir: Valentyn Vasyanovych
Best Director: “Blanco en Blanco”, dir: Theo Court
Special Jury Prize: “Verdict”, dir: Raymund Ribay Gutierrez
Best Actress: Marta Nieto, “Madre”
Best Actor: Sami Bouajila, “A Son”
Best Screenplay: “Revenir”, dir: Jessica Palud, written by Jessica Palud, Philippe Lioret, Diasteme
Lion of the Future
Lion of the Future Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film: “You Will Die at 20”, dir: Amjad Abu Alala
Best VR Film: “The Key”, dir: Celine Tricart
Best VR Experience Award: “A Linha”, dir: Ricardo Laganaro
Best VR Story Award: “Daughters of Chibok”, dir: Joel Kachi Benson
Best Documentary on Cinema: “Babenco: Tell Me When I Die”, dir: Barbara Paz
Best Restored Film: “Ectasy”, dir: Gustav Machaty