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"I am 52 and my weight is 136 kilos." With a pinch of self-irony, Guillermo Del Toro accepts the Golden Lion of the 74. Venice Film Festival. The Mexican director triumphs with his The Shape of Water, an instant favourite of this year's high-level competition. A genre film, an unusual love story, a visually rich film that has reconciled both critics and the audience. "This award is dedicated to every single Mexican filmmaker" was the comment of a director who revitalized the fantasy genre and blended the horror with deep emotions and a strong romantic vein. Del Toro encouraged young Mexican director to follow their own paths, whatever it is: "I believe in monsters, and also in life, and in love and cinema too."

Best Film in the Orizzonti section is Nico 1988 by Italian filmmaker Susanna Nicchiarelli, produced by Gregorio Paonessa and Marta Donzelli, with the support of Rai Cinema and MiBACT. The film features a great performance by actress Trine Dyrholm. Nicchiarelli stated: "It's a complicated film, both an Italian and an international work, and a film about music." Last year too, an Italian film (Libera nos by Federica Di Giacomo) won the top prize of Orizzonti, a section dedicated to innovative cinema.

The Grand Jury Prize went to Israeli film Foxtrot by Samuel Maoz, who already got the Golden Lion in 2009 with his Lebanon. The director reminded us that foxtrot is a kind of dance that finishes in the same spot where it started: it was the same for him in Venice. The most touching moment of the evening was the Silver Lion - Best Director Prize that went to Xavier Legrand's Custody, a tense thriller about domestic violence. Legrand, who also got the Lion of the Future - Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film, burst into tears: "Many people asked me why I chose such a painful topic for my first film. I chose it because I couldn't wait the second feature. Talking about violence against women is too urgent a subject. I hope women will have a better future." A former actor, Legrand developed this film starting from his previous short Avant que de tout perdre.

A big and warm applause, and a standing ovation from the jury, welcomed Charlotte Rampling on stage. The actress won the Volpi Cup for her brave perfomance in Andrea Pallaoro's Hannah. Rampling commented: "Italy is my fundamental source of inspiration. I started at 22 with Gianfranco Mingozzi, and then I worked with masters such as Visconti, Liliana Cavani, Patroni Griffi, Adriano Celentano, Gianni Amelio. Now I've just made this film with Andrea Pallaoro, who belongs to a brand new generation." It should be highlighted that both the awarded Italian films (Hannah and Nico 1988) are international coproductions.

Volpi Cup for Best Actor went to Palestinian Kamel El Bash for Ziad Doueiri's The Insult. Theatre actor for the first time on the big screen, El Basha thanked the Palestinian audience that supported him throughout his 30-year-long career. 

Best Screenplay - but it was a frontrunner for the Golden Lion as well - to Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri: "I had so much fun in these past few days. I drank so many Negronis with my actors Frances McDormad and Sam Rockwell."

Special Jury Prize to Sweet Country by Australian director Warwick Thornton, a dark Aboriginal western denouncing the slavery in Australia at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Marcello Mastroianni Award went to 18-year-old actor Charlie Plummer for his performance in Lean on Pete. Despite his young age, Plummer is already very much on demand - we'll see him soon in the upcoming Ridley Scott movie on the kidnapping of Paul Getty.

This edition of the Venice Film Festival has been of a particularly high level, and the jury headed by Annette Bening has awarded almost all of the best films in competition. Exception includes Paolo Virzì's Ella & John (at least for the performances of Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren), Paul Schrader's First Reformed, and Frederick Wiseman's extraordinary documentary Ex Libris.

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VENEZIA 74

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