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Korean film ‘Pieta’ captures Venice Golden Lion

South Korean director Kim Ki-duk’s shocking drama Pieta has won the Golden Lion for best film at the 69th Venice Film Festival.

The film follows a young loan shark as he goes about his business maiming debtors to collect insurance money. His ruthless course is interrupted by a stranger who claims to be his mother —and his acceptance of her opens in him a sense of pity for his former victims.

Director KIM Ki-duk shows his Golden Lion for best movie for his film 'Pieta.'Director KIM Ki-duk shows his Golden Lion for best movie for his film ‘Pieta.’ (Domenico Stinellis/Associated Press)

The Silver Lion for best director went to Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master, inspired by the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The film’s stars, Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, shared the prize for best actor during the ceremony Saturday.

In the film, Hoffman plays a charismatic sect leader who both befriends and enthralls a World War II veteran, played by Phoenix, who is drowning in homemade swill and unable to find a job or a life purpose.

Hoffman accepted both awards on behalf of both Anderson and Phoenix, who had continued from Venice on to Toronto to promote the film. Hoffman apologized for being ruffled, saying he had just landed at the airport and had changed into his suit in a restroom.

Hoffman praised Phoenix as a `’life force” and called Anderson “one of my closest friends.”

“He happens to be one of the great filmmakers in the world. How lucky am I?” said Hoffman, who has appeared in five of Anderson’s films.

The best actress award went to Israeli actress Hadas Yaron for her role in Rama Burshtein’s Fill the Void.

The movie, set in Tel Aviv’s Hasidic community, tells the story of 18-year-old Shira, played by Yaron, who faces the choice of whether or not to marry the widower of her beloved sister after her death in childbirth.

Paradise: Faith, by Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl, took the special jury prize. The film, the second part in Seidl’s trilogy about three women from the same family on different quests, stars Maria Hofstaetter as a single woman who dedicates her vacation to missionary work.

The movie caused a stir in the Italian media for a scene in which Hofstaetter’s character simulates sex with a crucifix — a point that the director addressed briefly while accepting the award.

“I am not blasphemous,” Seidl told the audience.

Best screenplay went to French director Olivier Assayas for Something in the Air.

CBC | Arts News

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