76th Venice Film Festival Golden Lion to 'The Joker'

By Moira Sullivan

Golden Lion 
The awards for the 76th Venice Film Festival were given out on September 7. Venice Jury President Lucretia Martel took heat for comments badly translated about Roman Polanski whose film An Officer and a Spy is based on the Dreyfus Affair. An allegation that Martel had misgivings about showing Polanski’s work because of pleading guilty to statutory rape charges for sex with a minor in 1977, she said,   were misconstrued. Producers threatened to pull the film from the competition based on this miscommunication --so, it just had to win - still Polanski could not pick up his Silver Lion award since Italy has an extradition agreement with the US. His wife Emmanuelle Seigner accepted on his behalf. The film is based on the true story of a Jewish officer  in the French military who was charged for treason in 1984 for selling military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris. He was finally acquitted. "The Dreyfus Affair" never goes away and Martel said we still have to dig deep into the history. "The Polanski Affair"will never go away either. The Polish director also took heat for finding comparisons with himself and Albert Dreyfus.

Also on this year’s jury was Canadian director Marry Harron (who made Charlie Says at Venice last year, and I Shot Any Warhol) so together with Martel the jury had some heavy hitters.

Alberto Barbera repeated the age old adage that competition titles must be selected on the basis of quality, not gender representation. And he said he would quit if that came into question. Let him quit! there could be a better festival director out there especially since Toronto manages to fill its director lineup with 40% women and Sundance with 46%. There is something to be said about the oldest film festival in the world that doesn't merit the attention it once did.

Batman and Robin are also old, but the Golden Lion went to Todd Philips’ ‘The Joker with a new funny man played by Joaquin Phoenix. This franchise may be old but not as ancient as the Tarot cards this modern duo represents as far as archetypes. IN the classic Rider Waite deck the first person the fool meets is the Magician. The jovial nonchalant image of an androgynous character not really looking where he is going to next step at the precipice of a cliff is not necessarily all bad. Foolish can be good - it can be taking a risk that leads to a positive outcome. In the Tarot "The Fool" meets "The Magician” who tempers his foolhardiness. Enter "The Joker" who meets the Batman . All we have left of the tarot in playing cards is "The Joker." This new joker and Golden Lion is a violent fool and opens October 3 in the US. Venice has tried to shake off the dust of being second place to Cannes by being open to streaming platform debuts such as films from Netflix and Amazon and in competition - Hollywood blockbusters.

In third place for the top awards was Sweden’s Roy Anderson with his newest film About Endlessness. He always wins a prize with so much time in between his films and a picture language that is beyond the ken of must filmmakers today. He learned it by making commercials when his second feature film flopped and turned to the economy of the commercial ad and the need to reel in spectators with a visual punch.  Like the early cinema attractions this is Anderson's forté Single scenes with carefully designed mise en scène, drab colors and depressed characters with a message is Anderson'

s revered trademark.

© 2019 - Moira Sullivan Air Date: 09/11/19
Movie Magazine International