The Venice Film Festival — That’s a Wrap


Back from the Lido, I learned that Somewhere, Sofia Coppola’s slight, stringent, not-quite sentimental tale of a movie star on the edge of a nervous breakdown and the 11-year-old daughter that loves him, had won the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice Film Festival–the “unanimous choice” per jury president Quentin Tarantino.

I was rooting for the festival’s other American indie, Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff (in which, not a celeb but a wagon train of western settlers find themselves lost) to pull off an upset; I also imagined that a Tarantino-led jury, which also included French director Arnaud Desplechin, might decide to anoint Hong Kong veteran Tsui Hark for his enjoyably outré historical pageant, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Still, I can’t say that the choice of Somewhere came as a surprise.

Some years back, Tarantino had articulated a highly personal form of cinephilia in presenting Coppola with the Best Director award at the annual New York Film Critics Circle dinner, characterizing her Lost in Translation, an earlier version of Somewhere, as his favorite movie of the year: “At some point, I got a crush on the movie. I’ve seen it five times and every time I’ve seen it”–delighted snicker–“I’ve had a little date with myself!” Basta per favore!

The festival’s other big winner was an even more minimalist, actor-driven movie. Jerzy Skolimowsky’s Essential Killing received a Special Jury Prize, with Vincent Gallo receiving the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor his role as a renditioned Afghani prisoner escaped into the snowy wastes of Poland. Spacial disorientation was a festival theme. Indeed, my own jury gave the award for the best 3D movie released in Italy over the past year jointly to Avatar and How to Train Your Dragon.