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Alex Farba Deleon is a ambassador



MY Venice Festival Highlights


        Alex Deleon


 Annette Bening jury president was regal at the closing ceremony


In a sense everybody sees a different festival depending on choices made and the vicissitudes of the daily agenda.

My festival started out slowly but picked up steam toward the end.  Arriving late I missed a number of films I wanted to see and didn't see any of the eventual winners, however I did catch a few good ones.

The highlight of my personal festival week was  George Clooney's all American satire "Suburbicon" with Matt Damon and Julianne Moore. Ms. Moore who also received a career award early in the week at a special side event.

Ozu's restored masterpiece "Ochazuke no Aji" (The flavor of Green Tea over Rice) was a classic Japanese treasure well worth revisting. An examination of an arranged marriage on the rocks saved when the overbearing upper class wife finally realizes that there is more to the taste of Green tea over rice than it's relative tastelessness. With an all time magnificent performance by Japanese actress Kogure Michiyo, the wordless epiphany on her face alone worth a hundred movies.

Hen pecked husband Saburi Shin and Kogure Michiyo in Ozu's low key marriage drama "Ochazuke no Aji" ~

"The War Room" (On the making of the set for thewar room in Dr. Strangelove) and "The Prince and the Dybbuk" a dazzling documentary on the strange life of little known Polish director Michal Waszynski  who made the prewar Yiddish classic "The Dybbuk", survived the war and then embarked on a second career as producer of international block busters at  Cinecittà in Italy was a most  rewarding double bill.

Frederick Wiseman's three hour documentary on the New York Public Library had certain intellectual rewards for viewers with patience and, finally, Errol Morris' two part Netflix documentary WORMWOOD on the execution and high level coverup of a prominent dissident scientist was not only an eye opener but a master class in creative abstract documentary filmmaking.

Frank Olson was a scientist working on fiendish American experiments with LSD during the Cold War in 1953 and had great misgivings over his participation in these grotesque experiments. Viewed as a dangerous dissident who might expose top militaty secrets he was defenestrated (tossed out of a high hotel window) by government thugs with the death being passed off as a suicide.His son spent half a century trying to unearth the truth, which he finally did,  but not to final satisfaction. The after taste of his desperate quest as Bitter as Wormwood!  Chilling and spellbinding.

At the closing ceremony British actress Charlotte Rampling who received the best actress award for the film HANNAH spoke of how she first got started in Italian films many years ago with directors such as Visconti and still feels connected to Italy to this very day. Her remarks evoked a standing ovation from the appreciative Italian audience.

Charlotte Rampling looking great at age 71 won the best actress lion for her role in Hannah, in which she plays a woman drifting between reality and denial when she is left alone to grapple with the consequences of her husband's imprisonment. Filmed largely in Italy by Italian born director Andrea Palloro.

The awards this year for a change were universally popular with no complaints about audience favorites being overlooked in favor of murky Turkeys out of left field.

The Golden Lion grand prix for best film went to the "The shape of water", a front runner all week long, by heavyweight (300 pounds) Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, not to be confused with Hollywood actor Benicio del Toro, please.

French Director Xavier Legrand broke down in a flood of tears upon receiving a lion for best diector of  the film "Jusqu'à la Garde".

An unusual first in festival awards went to Australian Aboriginal director Warwick Thornton for his Aussie western "Sweet Country". Another major winner was Samuel Maoz’s Israeli drama, Foxtrot, which was awarded  the Grand Jury Prize;

The highly popular American drama with the odd title "Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, directed by Martin McDonagh had to be satisfied with a lesser prize, Best Screenplay, but at least it wasn't left out in the cold.

French director Xavier Legrand sheds tears of joy at double award for best debut film and best director
Director Guillermo del Toro lovingly eyes his Golden Lion

Aboriginal native Australian directir Warwick Thornton quite happy to be awarded the festival's Special Jury Prize for his aboriginal inspired western, "Sweet Country" set in the Australian outback.