Trouble ahead: Roman Polanski wins Venice Film Festival Grand Prize

Photo credit: Warner Bros

The 2019 Venice International Film Festival has wrapped up, and this year’s edition has announced its award winners. The Golden Lion, the festival’s top laureate, went to “Joker,” which is a strong statement from this year’s competition jury led by Lucrecia Martel.

In recent years, the Venice Golden Lion has gone to films that went on to have legs in the awards-season conversation stateside. Last year’s Lion went to Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” which won three Academy Awards for Netflix but lost Best Picture to “Green Book.” The year prior, the Golden Lion went to Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” which won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2018.

In a surprise upset over Joaquin Phoenix in hot competition title “Joker” (until it carried off with the Golden Lion), Best Actor went to Luca Marinelli for his titular turn in the Jack London adaptation “Martin Eden.” Best Actress went to Ariane Ascaride, star of “Gloria Mundi.” The Silver Lion for Best Director went to Roy Andersson for “About Endlessness.”

In another surprise, the Grand Jury Prize went to Roman Polanski (not in attendance, of course) for “An Officer and a Spy,” which earlier this week picked up a FIPRESCI prize out of the festival.

The Marcello Mastroianni Award for Young Actor went to Toby Wallace for the Australian cancer drama “Babyteeth.” In his review, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote, “Wallace is… strong, refusing to let his demons peel off the way that a lesser film would ask them to. He’s also the funniest part of a film with a wicked sense of humor.”

In the Venice Classics section, Best Documentary went to director Bárbara Paz for “Babenco: Tell Me When I Die,” an immersion into the life of her late partner, Argentine-Brazilian filmmaker Héctor Babenco. Best Restored Film went to Gustav Machatý’s scandalous 1933 “Ecstasy,” starring Hedy Lamarr

In the Horizons sidebar, prizes went to “Madre,” “A Son,” “Revenir,” “Darling,” and “Verdict.” Best Film in this section went to Valentyn Vasyanovych’s PTSD drama “Atlantis.”

As previously announced, Julie Andrews and Pedro Almodóvar received Honorary Golden Lions for their many contributions to the art form.


Golden Lion: “Joker,” Todd Phillips

Grand Jury Prize: “An Officer and a Spy,” Roman Polanski

Silver Lion for Best Director: Roy Andersson, “About Endlessness”

Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Ariane Ascaride, “Gloria Mundi”

Volpi Cup for Best Actor: Luca Marinelli, “Martin Eden”

Best Screenplay: “No. 7 Cherry Lane,” Yonfan

Special Jury Prize: “The Mafia Is No Longer What It Used to Be,” Franco Maresco

Marcello Mastroianni Award for Young Actor: Toby Wallace, “Babyteeth”


Best Film: “Atlantis,” Valentyn Vasyanovych

Best Director: Théo Court, “White on White”

Special Jury Prize: “Verdict,” Raymund Ribas Gutierrez

Best Actress: Marta Nieto, “Madre”

Best Actor: Sami Bouajila, “A Son”

Best Screenplay: “Back Home,” Jessica Palud, Philippe Lioret and Diastème

Best Short Film: “Darling,” Salim Salif


Luigi de Laurentiis Award for Best Debut Feature: “You Will Die at Twenty,” Amjad Abu Alala


Best Restored Film: “Ecstasy,” Gustav Machatý

Best Documentary on Cinema: “Babenco – Alguém Tem Que Ouvir O Coração E Dizer: Parou,” Bárbara Paz


Best Virtual Reality: Céline Tricart, “The Key”

Best Virtual Reality Experience: “A Linha,” Ricardo Laganaro

Best Virtual Reality Story: “Daughters of Chibok,” Joel Kachi Benson


Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date