FESTIVALS

[2012] VENICE MOSTRA | American heavies feted on Lido

P.T. Anderson's leading men jointly garner top acting award
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“Pieta,” a shocking new work by Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-Duk about a small-time crook’s attempted redemption after he rediscovers his humane side in a society corrupt by money, won the Golden Lion of the Best Film at the 69th Mostra last night. “I wish to thank all those who contributed to this film as well as the Venice Festival and Italian audiences, and, finally, the members of the jury,” the filmmaker said upon accepting his prize.

Golden Lion winner Kim Ki-Duk

Next came the highlight of the night: the filmmaker sang a cappela in Korean on the steps of the Palais du Cinema. Accompanied by his film’s female lead, Cho Min-Soo, he was applauded heavily by those present. The fifty-one year-old filmmaker, who’s a regular on the european festival sene, had already won a prize in Venice in 2004, it was the Silver Bear for Best Direcotr for “Bin-jip.”

Still from "Pieta"

The jury, presided by Michael Mann, gave the Best Actor award chose jointly to Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who head the cast of “The Master,” a film by Paul Thomas Anderson based on the life of L. Ron Hubbard, founder the Church of Scientology.

“I just got off a plane, like, five minutes ago, literally,” Hoffman told the red carpet awards ceremony.

“I still have crust in my eyes from the sleep on the plane. I put this suit on in a bathroom, so please don’t judge.”

He went on to praise Phoenix, who was back to his best form in “The Master” after several years in the acting wilderness.

“Joaquin Phoenix is a life force in this film … and I kind of rode that life force and that was my performance.

“It was really riding his life force because it was something that was untameable and my job was to try to and it was almost impossible, which is kind of the movie.”

Phoenix plays Freddie, World War II alcoholic veteran whose life is turned upside down by his encounter with the “master”, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, prophet of a pseudo-scientific ideological-medical faith, based on hypnosis and psychology, which promises to save lost souls. “The Master” also received the award for best director, which crowned the work of Paul Thomas Anderson, author among others of “Boogies Nights” and “Magnolia.”

In examining the founding of the self-described religion of Scientology, Anderson tackled a topic many filmmakers would consider taboo given the support it enjoys in Hollywood and its sensitivity to perceived criticism.

He confirmed he had shown the film to Tom Cruise, a leading Scientologist, and said the two were “still friends”.

Full details on this year’s winners in Venice here

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