The main prize of this year’s Venice Film Festival will be given in Venice to the documentary film All the Beauty and the Bloodshed by American director Laura Poitras (All the Beauty and the Bloodshed), which deals with the issue of opioids in the United States. This was announced by the jury that chose from among the 23 films in the main competition. It is only the second time in the festival’s 79-year history that a documentary has won the main prize.
The 58-year-old Poitras presented a documentary starring the well-known artist Nan Goldin, who as an activist joined the fight against the Sackler family, owners of the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma. It was she who launched the powerful painkiller OxyContin onto the US market in the 1990s, which is quickly addictive. According to experts, more than half a million people died in the United States during the past two decades due to addiction to this opium.
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Poitras, who won several awards including an Academy Award for her 2014 documentary Citizenfour (The Edward Snowden Story), thanked the festival for recognizing that “the documentary belongs in cinema” and praised Goldin.
“I have met many brave and brave people in my life, but I have never met anyone like Nan, the one who chose to take on the family of billionaire Sackler,” the creator said. “He can delve deeper into the soul and share things that most people wouldn’t even tell their loved ones, let alone in public,” she added.
Goldin herself became addicted to the drug OxyContin, which doctors prescribed to her for post-operative pain relief. For this reason, she then began to fight for American cultural institutions to part with money from the Sacklers, who were generous sponsors.
Italy’s Luca Guadagnino won the Silver Lion for directing the cannibal romance Bones and All. The grand prize for the jury went to the French courtroom drama Saint Omer directed by Alice Diop. The jury also awarded a special prize to imprisoned Iranian director Jaafar Panahi for No Bears.
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The Best Actress award went to Cate Blanchett for her performance in American director Todd Fields Tar, in which she portrayed a conductor of a German symphony orchestra struggling with obstacles in a male-dominated environment. The Volpi Cup for Best Actor was awarded to Colin Farrell by a jury led by actress Julianne Moore for his role in the black comedy The Banshees of Inisherin by Irish director Martin McDonagh.
Last year, French director Audrey Diwan’s The Event won the Golden Lion in Venice, and the year before, Chloé Zhao’s Land of Nomads won. For the third time in a row, this year, a woman wins the main prize. The results of the festival serve as a valuable prediction of the opportunities for individual creators for the upcoming year of the Academy Awards.
The only documentary to win the Golden Lion in Venice so far was Sacro GRA directed by Gianfranco Rossi in 2013.