The director Laura Poitras created a cinematic monument to an icon of photography and thus won the Golden Lion. The most important prizes at the Venice Film Festival went to women again – according to jury president Moore, this is proof of a change.
Venice – The American filmmaker Laura Poitras has an open ear for dissenting voices. She is best known for an Oscar-winning documentary about whistleblower Edward Snowden (“Citizenfour”). For her new work, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, she interviewed Nan Goldin, the photographer whose anarchic photos of outsiders first horrified, then delighted, New York’s art scene.
Poitras was the only documentary film in the competition to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. For the third time in a row, the main prize on Saturday evening went to a female filmmaker – which had only happened extremely rarely since 1949, namely a total of seven times.
Julianne Moore looks ahead with confidence
This time, a female director also received the Grand Jury Prize. So do women filmmakers have equal rights now? “You just have to look at tonight’s evidence,” Jury President Julianne Moore said after the awards ceremony. “You see so many stories directed by women. Stories about women are celebrated. I think: Yes – there is definitely a change. I think we can now put a lid on it and look ahead and not always interpret everything in terms of gender. And just expect that we should have every opportunity to tell our stories.”
Moore said the decision to go with All the Beauty and the Bloodshed was clear. As jury member Isabel Coixet put it, “It was the film we’ve been waiting for.” is held responsible. Goldin himself was addicted to a painkiller sold by the company.
At the same time, the film looks at Goldin’s life. It tells the story of how her older sister committed suicide and Goldin herself left her conservative home in Boston at the age of 14. Drag queens and other misfits became her surrogate family. “Survival was an art,” Goldin once said in the film. “You could be arrested for crossing the street in Boston.”
Poitras has interviewed Goldin many times for All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. Goldin’s stories lead through the film as a voice-over, videos and photos from the life of the artist, who was born in 1953, are also shown. In her photos, Goldin focuses on her relationships with her friends, and that’s what makes her pictures so seductive, says Poitras in the film.
Regardless of whether it’s about her activism, her art or her life: Everything, said the photographer in Venice, is actually dedicated to one thing – the fight against stigmatization. Be it drug addiction, domestic violence, non-heterosexual gender identities or illnesses. She devotes herself to topics that are often kept secret in society and packs them into artistically composed and powerful images. Poitras managed to make an equally powerful film about Goldin’s life.
The political in the private
The film “Saint Omer”, which was awarded the Grand Jury Prize – the second most important award of the festival – also looks for the political in the private sphere. It’s based on a true story, said French filmmaker Alice Diop. She herself attended a trial in which a woman was accused of infanticide. In “Saint Omer” the writer and lecturer Rama (Kayije Kagame) also follows such a process. But the case against the Senegalese-French woman named Laurence Coly is causing emotional problems for Rama. Memories of the complicated relationship with her own mother shake her.
Among other things, the father of the dead child testifies, a much older, white man who has hidden his relationship with Coly and his paternity. In addition, in the course of the trial, racist ways of thinking among witnesses and observers of the trial become apparent. Some are surprised that the accused can express herself so well. The others believe that she has a different, “mystical” view of the law because of her origins. A cleverly told work that also won The Lion of the Future award for a debut film at the film festival.
Other honorees at this year’s festival include Italian director Luca Guadagnino, who won the Silver Lion for Best Director for Bones and All, and imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who received the Special Jury Prize for No Bears. The awards for best actor went to two big movie stars, Cate Blanchett (“Tár”) and Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”). The award for best screenplay also went to “The Banshees of Inisherin” and thus to Martin McDonagh. What distinguished these different works in the end? “We looked for movies that made our hearts beat faster,” Moore said. dpa