Yesterday, surprising many prognosticators, the controversial, near-sexually explicit spy thriller Se, Ji / Lust, Caution earned Ang Lee his second Venice Film Festival Golden Lion for Best Film.
Lee, whose Brokeback Mountain won the Golden Lion in 2005, remarked that his accepting the award “in the shadow of the passing of two great giants, Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman, I realize how huge this festival has become.”
Lee dedicated his Golden Lion to Bergman, whom he saw while working on Lust, Caution. “Ingmar hugged me the way a mother hugs a child,” the Taiwanese director said. “This hug was not for me, it was for you, the keepers of cinema.” Bergman died on July 30, and Antonioni the following day.
In Lust, Caution, members of a Chinese resistance group hatch a plan to murder a high-ranking Chinese official in cahoots with Japanese occupiers in the Shanghai of the early 1940s. Things get a little complicated when a resistance spy (newcomer Tang Wei) falls in love with her target (Tony Leung). (Things got even more complicated when China announced that the film’s – supposedly – sexually explicit scenes will be cut for release in that country.)
Rodrigo Prieto, who had previously collaborated with Lee in Brokeback Mountain, was given an Osella for best cinematography.
Though Lust, Caution is spoken mostly in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects – in fact, it is the second consecutive Mandarin-language film to win at Venice, following last year’s Still Life – English was the language spoken by most of the 2007 Venice winners.
Festival president Marco Mueller made sure that lots of British and American films were included in the Golden Lion competition roster, and even though several British films received raves from critics, U.S. productions dominated the list of winners.
Despite reservations from some critics, Brian De Palma was voted best director for Redacted, the sort of film that gives American right-wingers both stomach convulsions and anti-Hollywood ammunition, but that fares well with those who want to make an anti-war/anti-militarism – and perhaps also an anti-nativism – statement.
Redacted is based on the March 2006 rape and murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl by US servicemen, who then proceeded to slaughter her family. It is also the director’s reaction to the sanitized media depiction of the Iraq war in the United States. Nearly twenty years ago, De Palma covered similar ground in his 1989 war drama Casualties of War, which depicts the gang rape and murder of a young girl during the Vietnam War.
Cate Blanchett (right) and Brad Pitt won the Volpi Cup for best actress and actor in, respectively, Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. In Haynes’ bizarre biopic of Bob Dylan, Blanchett is one of the half-dozen or so performers incarnating the American folk singer, while in Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James, Pitt plays the assassinee. (Casey Affleck is the coward.)
Neither Blanchett nor Pitt were on hand to accept their awards.
Additionally, I’m Not There shared the Special Jury Prize (or runner-up for best film prize) with Abdel Kechiche’s The Grain of Life, about a North African immigrant trying to make ends meet in a French fishing village. Kechiche’s film had been tipped as the favorite to win the Golden Lion, as the two-and-a-half-hour drama had been greeted by rave reviews. One of the film’s leads, actress Hafsia Herzi, was given the Marcello Mastroianni Award for best new performer.
The best screenplay prize went to the sole major British winner, It’s a Free World…. (Joe Wright’s much-admired Atonement, starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and Vanessa Redgrave, was all but ignored when awards time came.)
Written by Paul Laverty, It’s a Free World… depicts the exploitation of undocumented immigrant labor in London. Ken Loach, ever the socially-conscious filmmaker, directed.
Among the other winners were veteran Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, 67, who was given a standing ovation lasting more than 10 minutes, and Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, 62, both of whom received special Lions for their body of work.
Mikhalkov was represented at this year’s festival with 12, a remake of Sidney Lumet’s 1957 courtroom drama 12 Angry Men. In the new version, prejudice and bigotry rule when a Russian jury is asked to convict a Chechen youth for the murder of his stepfather. The film failed to win any awards.
Earlier in the week, American director Tim Burton, 49, had been another special award honoree.
This year’s all-director jury was led by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou.
64th Venice Film Festival Awards
The 2007 Venice Film Festival was held between Aug. 29-Sept. 8, 2007.
The 2007 Venice Film Festival winners were announced on Sept. 8, 2007.
GOLDEN LION for Best Film: SE, JIE (LUST, CAUTION) by Ang LEE (USA/China/China, Taiwan)
SILVER LION for Best Director: Brian DE PALMA for the film: REDACTED (USA)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (ex aequo): LA GRAINE ET LE MULET / THE GRAIN OF LIFE by Abdellatif KECHICHE (France) and I’M NOT THERE by Todd HAYNES (USA)
COPPA VOLPI for Best Actor: Brad PITT in the film THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD by Andrew DOMINIK (USA)
COPPA VOLPI for Best Actress: Cate BLANCHETT in the film: I’M NOT THERE by Todd HAYNES (USA)
MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD for Best Young Actor or Actress: Hafsia HERZI in the film LA GRAINE ET LE MULET by Abdellatif KECHICHE (France)
OSELLA for Best Cinematography: Rodrigo PRIETO director of photography for the SE, JIE (LUST, CAUTION) by Ang LEE (USA/China/China, Taiwan)
OSELLA for Best Screenplay: Paul LAVERTY for the film IT’S A FREE WORLD… by Ken LOACH (UK/Italy/Germany/Spain)
HONORARY GOLDEN LION: BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI, TIM BURTON
SPECIAL LION for Overall Work: NIKITA MIKHALKOV
The Jury is delighted to acknowledge the consistent brilliance of Nikita Mikhalkov’s body of work. His new film is once again a confirmation of his mastery in exploring and revealing to us, with great humanity and emotion, the complexity of existence.
ORIZZONTI / HORIZONS
ORIZZONTI PRIZE: SÜGISBALL (AUTUMN BALL) by Veiko ÕUNPUU (Estonia)
ORIZZONTI DOC PRIZE: WUYONG (USELESS) by Jia ZHANGKE (China)
SPECIAL MENTION: KAGADANAN SA BANWAAN NING MGA ENGKANTO (DEATH IN THE LAND OF ENCANTOS) by Lav DIAZ (Philippines)
CORTO CORTISSIMO / SHORT FILMS
SILVER LION FOR BEST SHORT FILM: DOG ALTOGETHER by Paddy CONSIDINE (UK)
Special mention: LIUDI IZ KAMNYA (STONE PEOPLE) by Leonid RYBAKOV (Russian Federation) for its humorous and radical metaphor about a familiar, real situation
PRIX UIP: ALUMBRAMIENTO by Eduardo CHAPERO-JACKSON (Spain)
Leone del Futuro / Lion of the Future:
Leone del Futuro – Premio Venezia Opera Prima Luigi De Laurentiis for First Film: LA ZONA by Rodrigo PLÁ (Giornate degli autori-Venice Days, Spain/Mexico)
Best Film Venezia 64: La Graine et le mulet by Abdellatif Kechiche
Best Film Horizons and International Critics’ Week: Jimmy Carter Man From Plains by Jonathan Demme
SIGNIS Award: In the Valley of Elah by Paul Haggis
Special mention: It’s a Free World… by Ken Loach and La Graine et le mulet by Abdellatif Kechiche
Doc/it Award – Autonomous Province of Trento: L’Aimée by Arnaud Desplechin
Special mention: Il passaggio della linea by Pietro Marcello
International Critics’ Week Award: Zui yaoyuan de juli (The Most Distant Course) by Lin Jingjie
Isvema Award for a debut or second feature film: La ragazza del lago by Andrea Molaioli
Label Europa Cinemas Award – Giornate degli Autori 2007: Tricks (Sztuczki) by Andrzej Jakimowski
Francesco Pasinetti (SNGCI) Award
Best Film: Non pensarci by Gianni Zanasi
Special mention: Valzer by Salvatore Maira
Best Actor: Toni Servillo – La ragazza del lago by Andrea Molaioli
Best Actress: Valeria Solarino – Valzer by Salvatore Maira
Prix du Forum Cinéma et Littérature: Atonement by Joe Wright
Brian Award: Le ragioni dell’aragosta by Sabina Guzzanti
Queer Lion Award: The Speed of Life by Ed Radtke
Special mention: Sleuth by Kenneth Branagh
Arca Cinemagiovani Award
Best Film Venezia 64: La Graine et le mulet by Abdellatif Kechiche
Best Italian Film: Non pensarci by Gianni Zanasi
“Altre Visioni” Award: Sous les bombes by Philippe Aractingi
Biografilm Award: Jimmy Carter Man From Plains by Jonathan Demme
Special mention: Il passaggio della linea by Pietro Marcello
Leoncino d’oro / Lion Cub Award 2007 (Agiscuola): The Darjeeling Limited by Wes Anderson
Cinema for UNICEF commendation: Redacted by Brian De Palma
C.I.C.T. UNESCO Enrico Fulchignoni Award: Morocco Short Movies section by Various Directors
Cinema D’Essai (Art Cinema) CICAE Award: Geomen tangyi sonyeo oi (With the Girl of Black Soil) by Jeon Soo-il
Best Film in Competition: I’m not There by Todd Haynes
“The circle is not round. Cinema for peace and the richness of diversity” Award: La Zona by Rodrigo Plà
EIUC Human Rights Film Award (ex aequo): It’s a Free World… by Ken Loach and Sous les bombes by Philippe Aractingi
FEDIC Award: Non pensarci by Gianni Zanasi
Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award For a film which shows a firm connection with the arts: Nightwatching by Peter Greenaway
Future Film Festival Digital Award: Redacted by Brian De Palma
EIUC Human Rights Film Award: Jimmy Carter Man From Plains by Jonathan Demme
Special mention: Redacted by Brian De Palma
Special mention: It’s a Free World… by Ken Loach
Nazareno Taddei Award: La Graine et le mulet by Abdellatif Bechiche
Lanterna Magica Award: Tricks (Sztuczki) by Andrzej Jakimowski
La Navicella – Venezia Cinema Award: La Graine et le mulet by Abdellatif Bechiche
Bastone Bianco Award (Filmcritica): La Fille coupée en deux by Claude Chabrol
Lina Mangiacapre Award: Geomen tangyi sonyeo oi (With the Girl of Black Soil) by Jeon Soo-il
The City of Venice Award: Unni (India) by Murali Nair
Open Award 2007: Nightwatching by Peter Greenaway
Grand Jury: Zhang Yimou (president), Catherine Breillat, Jane Campion, Emanuele Crialese, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Ferzan Ozpetek, Paul Verhoeven
Horizons Jury: Gregg Araki (president), Frederick Wiseman, Hala Alabdalla Yakoub, Giorgia Fiorio, Ulrich Gregor
Opera Prima (First Film) Jury: Bill Mechanic (president), Rupert Everett, Randa Chahal, Liu Jie, Valeria Solarino
Corto Cortissimo (Short Film) Jury: François-Jacques Ossang (president), Yasmine Kassari, Roberto Perpignani
‘Lust Caution’ sex controversy
Sept. 7: Based on a semi-autobiographical short story by Eileen Chang, the two-and-half-hour Se, jie / Lust, Caution, Ang Lee’s first Chinese-language film since the 2000 martial-arts epic Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, stars Tony Leung as a powerful politician who is seduced by a young woman (newcomer Tang Wei) involved with a group of revolutionary students. The politician is a collaborator, assisting the Japanese occupiers in 1940s Shanghai.
Needless to say, Lust, Caution‘s politics and psychology have been all but ignored in favor of discussions about the (apparently quite explicit) sex scenes. Are they real? Is it all cgi? Do people actually do such things in real life?
The ratings board members at the Motion Picture Association of America apparently don’t, as they gave Lust, Caution a NC-17 rating. There goes the teenage market for the film. (Theoretically, that is.) If only Ang Lee had shown the two leads vomiting on one another, or perhaps chopping off each other’s heads; his film would then have received the more lenient R rating.
At least for the time being, the Taiwanese government isn’t too preoccupied with the kinky sex in Lust, Caution. Taiwan has complained that Lee’s film has been referred to in some quarters as a production from “Taiwan, China,” reportedly as a result of pressure from Beijing.
Lust, Caution is one of the features in competition for this year’s Golden Lion. Lee won the award in 2005 for another controversial drama dealing with human sexuality, Brokeback Mountain.
Personally, I just hope that Lust, Caution won’t be one more moralizing tale about the dangers of a very natural human instinct.
Addendum: Variety‘s review has Lust, Caution as a “Hong Kong-U.S.-China” production. In the magazine, Derek Elley complains that “too much caution and too little lust squeeze much of the dramatic juice out of” the film.
See also: Christopher Sun’s 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy is a box office hit in its native Hong Kong.
Golden Lion film competition line-up
Joe WRIGHT Atonement – UK / USA, 123(opening film)
Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave, Romola Garai, Brenda Blethyn
Wes ANDERSON The Darjeeling Limited – USA, 91
Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Anjelica Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray
Kenneth BRANAGH Sleuth – UK / USA, 86
Youssef CHAHINE Heya fawda (Le Chaos) – Egypt, 122
Khaled Saleh, Mena Shalaby, Hala Sedky, Youssef El Cherif
Brian DE PALMA Redacted – USA, 90
Kel ONeill, Daniel Stewart Sherman
Andrew DOMINIK The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – USA, 155
Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard
Paolo FRANCHI Nessuna qualità agli eroi – Italy / Switzerland / France, 102
Elio Germano, Bruno Todeschini, Irène Jacob
Tony GILROY Michael Clayton – USA, 119
George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack
Peter GREENAWAY Nightwatching – UK / Poland / Canada / Netherlands, 134
Martin Freeman, Emily Holmes, Eva Birthistle, Jodhi May
Jose Luis GUERIN En la ciudad de Sylvia – Spain, 90
Pilar Lopez De Ayala, Xavier Lafitte
Paul HAGGIS In the Valley of Elah – USA, 120
Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon
Todd HAYNES Im not There – USA, 135
Richard Gere, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Julianne Moore, Christian Bale, Charlotte Gainsbourg
JIANG Wen Taiyang zhaochang shenqi (The Sun Also Rises) – China / Hong Kong, 116
Jiang Wen, Joan Chen, Zhou Yun, Jaycee Chan, Anthony Wong
LEE Kang Sheng (LI Kangsheng) Bangbang wo aishen (Help Me Eros) – Taiwan, 107
Lee Kang Sheng, Yin Shin
Abdellatif KECHICHE La Graine et le mulet – France, 151
Habib Boufares, Marzouk Bouraouïa, Faridah Benkhetache, Sabrina Ouazani
Ang LEE (LI An) Se, Jei (Lust, Caution) – Taiwan, 135
Tony Leung, Joan Chen, Tang Wei
Ken LOACH Its a Free World – UK / Italy / Germany / Spain, 96
Juliet Ellis, Leslaw Zurek, Kierston Wareing
Vincenzo MARRA Lora di punta – Italy, 96
Fanny Ardant, Michele Lastella, Giulia Bevilacqua
MIIKE Takashi Sukiyaki Western Django – Japan, 121
Quentin Tarantino, Hideaki Ito, Kaori Momoi, Yoshino Rimura
Nikita MIKHALKOV 12 – Russian Federation, 153
Nikita Mikhalkov, Sergey Makovezkij, Mikhail Yefremov, Sergei Garmash
Andrea PORPORATI Il dolce e lamaro – Italy, 98
Fabrizio Gifuni, Luigi Lo Cascio, Donatella Finocchiaro
Eric ROHMER Les Amours dAstrée et Céladon – France / Italy / Spain, 109
Stéphanie Crayencour, Andy Gillet, Cécile Cassel
AOYAMA Shinji Sad Vacation – Japan, 136
Tadanobu Asano, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Ken Mitsuishi
João CANIJO Mal nascida – Portugal, 117
Anabela Moreira, Márcia Breia, Fernando Luís, Gonçalo Waddington, Tiago Rodrigues
Alex COX Searchers 2.0 – USA, 90
Del Zamora, Jaclyn Jonet, Ed Pansullo
Tonino DE BERNARDI Médée Miracle – Italy / France, 80
Isabelle Huppert, Tommaso Ragno, Giulietta De Bernardi
Laura Amelia GUZMAN, Israel CARDENAS Cochochi – Mexico / UK / Canada, 87
Louis A. Lerma Torres, Evaristo C. Lerma Torres
JEON Soo-il Geomen tangyi sonyeo oi (With the Girl of Black Soil) – South Korea / France, 90
Yu Yun-Mi, Jo Yung-Jin, Hyun-Woo Park
Damien ODOUL LHistoire de Richard O. – France, 74
Mathieu Amalric, Stéphane Terpereau
Veiko ÕUNPUU Sügisball (Autumn Ball) – Estonia, 123
Rain Tolk, Taavi Eelmaa, Tiina Tauraite
Pere PORTABELLA Die Stille vor Bach (The Silence Before Bach) – Spain, 102
Àlex Brendemühl, Feodor Atkine, Christian Brembeck, Daniel Ligorio, Georg C.Biler
Penny WOOLCOCK Exodus – UK, 111
Daniel Percival, Anthony Johnson, Ger Ryan
LÜ Yue Xiaoshuo (The Obscure) – China, 84
Wang Shuo, Ah Cheng, Wang Zhiwen, Wang Tong
Hartmut BITOMSKY Staub (Dust) – Germany, 90
Barbara CUPISTI Madri – Italy, 90
Lav DIAZ Kagadanan sa banwaan ning mga engkanto (Death in the Land of Encantos) – Philippines, 480
Roeder Camanag, Perry Dizon, Anglei Bayani, Dante Perez, Sophia Aves
Jonathan DEMME Man from Plains – USA, 120
Arnaud DESPLECHIN LAimée – France, 70
Robert Desplechin, Arnaud Desplechin, Fabrice Desplechin
DU Haibin San (Umbrella) – China, 100
Cao GUIMARÃES Andarilho – Brazil, 81
JIA Zhangke Wuyong (Useless) – China, 80
Pietro MARCELLO Il passaggio della linea – Italy, 60
Joel PIZZINI, Paloma ROCHA Anabazys – Brazil, 140
Glauber Rocha, Norma Bengell, Orlando Senna
Julian SCHNABEL Berlin – USA, 80
Lou Reed, Emmanuelle Seigner
Photos: © Venice Film Festival
61st Edinburgh Film Festival Awards – 2007
The 61st Edinburgh Film Festival was held between Aug. 15-26, 2007.
The winners at the 61st Edinburgh Film Festival were announced on Aug. 25.
Sam Riley stars as rocker Ian Curtis in Anton Corbijns Control. “Its fabulous. Its my first movie so I had no expectations for the film,” Corbijn remarked upon accepting the best film award from Stephen Frears and Kate Dickie. “I did all these things that people said I shouldnt be doing. Shooting in black and white, having an unknown as the main character, putting my own money in. Most of these things are what people say are great.” In addition to its Edinburgh win, earlier this year Control received a special mention at the Cannes Film Festival’s Golden Camera sidebar.
Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature Film, sponsored by the UK Film Council: Control, directed by Anton Corbijn
PPG Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film: Sam Riley, Control
Standard Life Audience Award: We Are Together, directed by Paul Taylor
Sky Movies Best Documentary Award: Billy the Kid, directed by Jennifer Venditti
Special Jury Commendation: The Monastery: Mr Vig and the Nun, directed by Pernille Rose Gronkjaer
Skillset New Directors Award: Lucia Puenzo – XXY
UK Film Council Kodak Award for Best British Short Film: The One and Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis Island, by James Griffiths
Special mention: Dog Altogether, by Paddy Considine
European Film Academy Short Film 2007 – Prix UIP: Soft, by Simon Ellis
Special mention: Final Journey, by Lars Zimmermann and Ottica Zero by Maja Borg
Short Scottish Documentary Award: Breadmakers, by Yasmin Fedda
Special mention: How to Save a Fish From Drowning, by Kelly Neal
McLaren Award for New British Animation in Partnership with BBC Film Network: Over the Hill, by Peter Baynton
Sarajevo Film Festival winners
The 13th Sarajevo Film Festival was held between Aug. 17–25, 2007.
The winners at the 13th Sarajevo Film Festival were announced on Aug. 25, 2007.
In Ozer Kizitans A Mans Fear of God, a devout Turkish Muslim discovers that religious dogma can be bad for your (mental) health and that religious hypocrisy is all around.
A Mans Fear of God / Takva
Director: Ozer Kiziltan
Saa Petrovic, Its Hard to Be Nice, director Srdan Vuletic
Saadet Isil Aksoy, Egg, director Semih Kaplanoglu
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE:
Im from Titov Veles director Teona Strugar-Mitevska
Actress Maria Varga, Iszkas Journey
SPECIAL HEART OF SARAJEVO AWARD: Steve Buscemi
COMPETITION PROGRAMME DOCUMENTARIES
Director: Namik Kabil
HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD:
The mosquito problem and other stories
Director: Andrey Paounov
Director: Marko Popovic
COMPETITION PROGRAMME SHORTS
BEST SHORT FILM:
Director: Adrian Sitaru
Tripe and Onions
Director: Marton Szirmai
Director: Marko antic
The EFA / UIP Award
This Award for the Best Short Film, presented by United International Pictures, offers its recipient a direct nomination for the European Film Academy (EFA) Award.
Tokyo Jim, directed by Jamie Rafn
The EDN Talent Grant
The EDN Talent Grant was established through the cooperation of the Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF) and the European Documentary Network (EDN), and is aimed at providing support to talented directors of documentary films from the Balkans.
In 4 Years, directed by Neboja Slijepcevic
The CICAE Award
The International Confederation of Artistic Cinemas (CICAE) award to a film in the Competition Programme. The chosen film will receive special CICAE support in its distribution, screening, and the reaching of an audience through a network of 3000 cinemas.
Mans Fear of God, directed by Ozer Kiziltan
The Bands Visit, directed by Eran Kolirin
International Competition Jury: Jeremy Irons; Meinholf Zurhorst; Frederick Maire; Ozgu Namal; Andrea taka
Documentary Jury: Tarik Samarah; Stefan Haupt; Adela Peeva;
Short Film Jury: Namik Kabil; Frederic Boyer; Balint Kenyeres
EFA / UPI Jury: Michele Ohyion, Dalibor Matanic and Nikolaj Nikitin
EDN Jury: Tarik Samarah, Stefan Haupt and Adela Peeva
CICAE Jury: Francois Ayme, Katarzyna Boratyn and Rita Linda Potyondi