Venice Film Festival | Emma Stone-led 'Poor Things' wins top prize

Matteo Garrone won the best director award while Seydou Sarr clinched the best young actor award for ‘Io Capitano’ at the 80th edition of the festival

September 10, 2023 11:53 am | Updated 02:13 pm IST

Director Yorgos Lanthimos poses with Golden Lion Award for Best Film for the movie ‘Poor Things’ at the Venice International Film Festival.

Director Yorgos Lanthimos poses with Golden Lion Award for Best Film for the movie ‘Poor Things’ at the Venice International Film Festival. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Poor Things, a film about Victorian-era female empowerment, won the Golden Lion on Saturday at a Venice Film Festival largely deprived of Hollywood glamour because of the writers and actors strikes. The film, starring Emma Stone, won the top prize at the 80th edition of the festival, which is often a predictor of Oscar glory.

Receiving the award, director Yorgos Lanthimos said the film wouldn't exist without Stone, who was also a producer but was not on the Lido for the festival. "This film is her, in front and behind the camera," Lanthimos said.

The film, based on Alasdair Gray's 1992 novel of the same name, tells the tale of Bella Baxter, who is brought back to life by a scientist and, after a whirlwind learning curve, runs off with a sleazy lawyer and embarks on a series of adventures devoid of the societal judgements of the era. Other top winners on the Lido were two films shaming Europe for its migration policies.

Io Capitano, (Me Captain) by Matteo Garrone, won the award for best director while Garrone's young star, Seydou Sarr, won the award for best young actor. The film tells the story of two young boys' odyssey from Dakar, Senegal, to the detention camps in Libya and finally across the Mediterranean to Europe. Agnieszka Holland's Green Border, about Europe's other migration crisis on the Polish-Belarus border, won the Special Jury Prize.

"People are still hiding in forests, deprived of their dignity, of their human rights, of their safety, and some of them will lose their lives here in Europe," Holland told the audience. "Not because we don't have the resources to help them but because we don't want to." Peter Sarsgaard won best actor for Memory, in which he co-stars with Jessica Chastain in a film about high schoolers reuniting.

ALSO READ:Venice Film Festival | Sofia Coppola’s ‘Priscilla’ gets 7-minute standing ovation

In his acceptance speech, Sarsgaard referred to the strike and artificial intelligence and the threat it poses to the industry and beyond. "I think we could all really agree that an actor is a person and that a writer is a person. But it seems that we can't," he said.

"And that's terrifying because this work we do is about connection. And without that, this animated space between us, this sacrament, this holy experience of being human, will be handed over to the machines and the eight billionaires that own them." Cailee Spaeny won best actress for Priscilla, Sofia Coppola's portrait of the private side of Priscilla and Elvis Presley.

The jury was headed by Damien Chazelle and included Saleh Bakri, Jane Campion, Mia Hansen-Love, Gabriele Mainetti, Martin McDonagh, Santiago Mitre, Laura Poitras and Shu Qi.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.