The Venice International Film Festival must be commended for being a platform for films of high quality artistic content. Though the stars arrive by the Venetian lagoon, the films are what make this a festival. Venice is the oldest one, in which all festivals have received their inspiration. This was confirmed by the Spanish master Manoel de Oliviera who received a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Ironically as he articulated his ideas on the seventh art, young journalists were filling the seats in anticipation of the festival commercial screening to 5000 lucky ticket winners for Shark Tale
. The film uses the voice of Robert De Niro who plays a godfather like shark and was going to be made an italian citizen by the government at a later date. De Niro argued for the acceptance of Italian American stereotypes claiming they have as much a right to exist as any other.
It was Mike Leigh's Vera Drake
who took home the coveted Golden Lion, and actress Imelda Staunton was honored with the best actress award. The film, which had been rejected at Cannes in May, is the story of a woman who helps young women in trouble by inducing natural abortions at a time that it was a criminal offense. This good mannered woman always ready to put on a cup of tea and lend a helping hand is eventually broken by the system and is served up a stiff prison sentence. Leigh was jubilant that an independent artistic film was rewarded with the top prize.
Another film that was awarded a special directorial prize was 3 Iron
, Kim Ki Duk's mesmerizing film about misfits from South Korea. The contemplative nature and affront to dialogue bound narratives was immensely appreciated at Venice. The South Korean title - literally
"Empty House", and is the story of a Tae suk, a young man who breaks into and lives in the houses of people out of town. One day he meets a woman who is physically abused by her husband who later joins him in his peculiar lifestyle. The dial on the scale at the end might be 44 grams but who knows.
There were other excellent films in the official selection such as "Café Lumière", (Kohi Jikou) (Masters) Hou Hsiao-hsien tribute to the 100th anniversary of Yazujiro Ozu's birth, starring Yo Hitoto and Tadanobu Asano. Hsiao-hsien tried to imagine how Ozu would have made a film about Japan today. A changeling and a man who records sounds of the Japanese underground tantalize the viewer but nothing in the film satisfies the traditional moviegoers longing for meaning.
For Movie Magazine This is Moira Sullivan, Venice Italy
© 2004 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 9/2004
The 61st Venice International Film Festival #2