Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” Wins Top Prize at the Venice Film Festival

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10 Sep 2017 | Awards

Guillermo del Toro has reason to roar…

The 52-year-old Mexican filmmaker’s lyrical period fairy tale, The Shape of Water, was awarded the top prize Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

Guillermo del Toro

del Toro’s fantasy premiered on the Lido last week early in the proceedings, and left viewers swooning in its wake. It was among the best-reviewed films of the festival, and had one of the most emotional gala screenings in memory.

When the Lion was announced tonight, the press room positively erupted with joy.

The Shape Of Water, a Cold War-set parable that stars Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon, represents del Toro’s first time in competition in Venice.

The prize, he noted, is the first time a Mexican helmer has won the Golden Lion.

From the stage, the filmmaker said, “I’m 52 years old, I weigh 300 pounds, and I’ve done 10 movies. There is a moment in every storyteller’s life, no matter what age you are, you risk it all and go and do something different.”

Added the teary del Toro, “To every Latin American filmmaker dreaming of doing something in the fantastic genre, it can be done.”

He said he intends to call the statue the “Sergio Leone” and remarked how full the Sala Grande was of the things he believes in, “Life, love and cinema.” That echoed something he’d said earlier in the week of the film, which mixes fantasy, romance, thriller, and old-style Hollywood: it’s a movie that’s “in love with love and in love with cinema.”

Shape took 10 years of struggle for del Toro to get made, and he’s said it was the hardest shoot he’s ever had.

With his Venice appearance, del Toro completed, in a way, a circle begun by his compatriots and pals Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro G Inarritu, whose Gravity and Birdman, respectively, made big splashes in recent years on this island before going on to Oscar glory. The Shape Of Water is a movie we will be talking about all through awards season.

Backstage, del Toro spoke to the press and was asked about the significance of the win for genre movies. “It means a lot,” he said pointing to parables that are “artistic, beautiful, politically charged movies.” It’s about time, he said, that “we understand every vernacular in cinema done with intelligence and passion is valid.”

Here’s a look at the overall winners:

VENICE 74

Golden Lion
The Shape Of Water, dir: Guillermo del Toro

Grand Jury Prize
Foxtrot, Samuel Maoz

Silver Lion, Best Director
Xavier Legrand, Jusqu’à La Garde

Volpi Cup, Best Actress
Charlotte Rampling, Hannah

Volpi Cup, Best Actor
Kamel El Basha, The Insult

Best Screenplay
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Special Jury Prize
Sweet Country, dir: Warwick Thornton

Marcello Mastroianni Award for for Best New Young Actor or Actress
Charlie Plummer, Lean On Pete

VENICE HORIZONS

Best Film
Nico, 1988, dir: Susanna Nicchiarelli

Best Director
Vahid Jalilvand, No Date, No Signature

Special Jury Prize
Caniba, dirs: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel

Best Actress
Lyna Khoudri, Les Bienheureux

Best Actor
Navid Mohammadzadeh, No Date, No Signature

Best Screenplay
Los Versos Del Olvido, dir: Alireza Khatami

Best Short Film
Gros Chagrin, dir: Céline Devaux

Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film
Jusqu’à La Garde, dir: Xavier Legrand

VENICE CLASSICS

Best Restoration
Idi I Smotri, dir: Elem Klimov

Best Documentary on Cinema
The Prince And The Dybbuk, dirs: Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosolowski

VENICE VIRTUAL REALITY

Best VR
Arden’s Wake (Expanded), dir: Eugene YK Chung

Best VR Experience
La Camera Insabbiata, dirs: Laurie Anderson, Hsin-Chien Huang

Best VR Story
Bloodless, dir: Gina Kim


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