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The Joker Coming October.

Venice Awards 2019 A Few Surprising Twists and Turns By Alex Deleon

By Alex Deleon

Italian actress Alessandra Mastronardi was easy on the eyes as the mistress of ceremonies at the final awards evening


Well, to make a long story short Joaquin Phoenix in an egregious jury misjudgement did not get best actor for his astounding performance in JOKER directed by Todd Phillips.   However,  the film itself was awarded the Best film Golden Lion top festival prize.  Again a misjudgement because while Joker was overall a very strong film it simply did not approach the total perfection and mastery of the Polanski chef d'oeuvre J'Accuse.  Very likely under pressure by jury president, feminist Argentine director Lucretia Martel, the tremendous Polanski opus was relegated to "second place", the Silver Lion special jury prize. 


The best actor award that Phoenix should have walked off with easily went instead to a popular local actor Luca Marinelli, 34, for the Italian version of the American novel by Jack London "Martin Eden".  What a twist. An Italian version of an old American novel beats out an American version of an all American character previously interpreted by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger.  Batman must be turning over in his grave.

Since it is the Venice Mostra policy not to give any one film more than one award my awards in the major categories would have been as follows:

Golden Lion for Best Film: Polanski's J'Accuse.

Best actor (by a country mile) Joaquin Phoenix for JOKER.

 In any case, even if twisted around somewhat, the two best films of the festival did not go unrecognized at the highest level.

As for the other prizes I would not dispute any of them because I did not see any of the films named.

The Coppa Volpi best actress award went to Ariane Ascaride, the French wife of Franco- Armenian director Robert Guédiguian for her role in Guédiguian's Gloria Mundi. That will be cause for a bit of joy in Yerevan.

The best screenplay award went to Hong Kong writer/director Yon Fan for his film . Ji Yuan tsi Qi Hao (No.7 Cherry Lane).   Sporting a floppy straw hat Yonfan made a stirring speech in English about the smell of freedom in the former British colony which is, at the moment, under heavy pressure from the communist mainland to stay in line.


 American director Todd Phillips of Joker with his Golden Lion and star Joaquin Phoenix at his side.  He stated pointedly that without Joaquin there would have been no Joker film.  Actor Phoenix seemed to take it all in stride secure in the knowledge that more important accolades than the Venetian ones are bound to accumulate as the film starts getting around.  A best actor Oscar in February is just about a foregone conclusion.. 

Italian actor Luca Marinell in Martin Eden was named Best Actor.


 Hong kong director Yonfan very pleased with his scenario Lion made a lively speech about the need for freedom of expression in film.

French actress Emmanuelle Seignier, wife of Roman Polanski with a major role in the film, holds up the Silver Lion she accepted in his place for J'Accuse. Polanski himself did not appear for fear that he might be  turned over to the ever vengeful American justice system. What a farce!

But yet again, another bravo for festival director Alberto Barbera for having the personal integrity to include the Polanski film in this years Venice competition.








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About Mostra Internazionale d Arte Cinematografica Venice

Oldest festival in the world, MOSTRA is Non-specialised competitive event for features and shorts. Two competing sections and three Prizes: the Golden Lion, the Lion of the Year and the Lion of the Future to best director`s debut film.



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