film festivals

Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland Takes Top Prize at 2020 Venice Film Festival

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The Rider’s director Chloé Zhao has won the Golden Lion at Venice’s socially distanced film festival with her entry Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand. Zhao is the first women to take the top prize in exactly a decade, since Sofia Coppola won in 2010 with her film Somewhere, and the fifth woman in history to win the Venice Film Festival’s top prize. Unlike last year’s Golden Lion winner, Joker, Zhao’s Nomadland has received almost unanimous critical praise thus far. The film follows Frances McDormand as a widow in a Nevada mining town decimated after the Great Recession who chooses to embark on a life on the open road.

In other festival news, Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s entry Pieces of a Woman won Best Actress for its star, The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby, and has been acquired by Netflix. “As a European filmmaker, I couldn’t be more excited and appreciative of finding my home for this film with Netflix. Their taste in independent cinema feels like the United Artists of the 1970s. The true champions of filmmakers and original voices for today,” said Mundruczó in a statement about the distribution deal with Netflix. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the film follows “a tragedy involving a young mother” played by Kirby and her “year-long odyssey of mourning.” The ensemble cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Molly Parker, Sarah Snook, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie, and Jimmie Falls.

Despite the global pandemic, Venice insisted on holding an in-person film festival, instituting major changes to the regular format to ensure the health and safety of its guests, including temperature checks, socially distanced outdoor screenings limited to half capacity, and mandatory mask-wearing. This year’s jury president, Cate Blanchette, handed out the awards to a half-empty theater, as many winners chose to accept their awards virtually. You can check out the full list of winners for the 2020 Venice International Film Festival below.

Golden Lion: Nomadland, dir. Chloé Zhao

Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize: Michael Franco, New Order

Silver Lion Best Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wife of a Spy

Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman

Volpi Cup for Best Actor: Pierfrancesco Favino, Padrenostro

Best Screenplay Award: Chaitanya Tamhane, The Disciple 

Special Jury Prize: Dear Comrades, dir. Andrey Konchalovskiy

Marcello Mastroianni Award for Young Actor: Rouhallah Zamani, Sun Children

Horizons Awards

Best Film: The Wasteland, dir. Ahmad Bahrami

Best Director: Lav Diazm Genus Pan

Special Jury Prize: Listen, dir. Ana Rocha de Sousa

Best Actress: Khansa Batma, Zanka Contact

Best Actor: Yahya Mahayni, The Man Who Sold His Skin

Best Screenplay: Pietro Castellitto, The Predators

Best Short Film: Entre Tu Y Milagros, dir. Mariana Saffon

Lion of the Future Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film: Listen, dir. Ana Rocha de Sousa

Venice Virtual Reality Competition

Best VR Immersive Story: Killing a Superstar, dir. Fan Fan

Best VR Immersive Experience: Finding Pandora, dir. Kiira Benzing

Best VR Immersive Work: The Hangman at Home - An Immersive Single User Experience, dir. Michelle and Uri Kranot

Nomadland Wins Top Prize at Venice Film Festival