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.
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:
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
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
Nico, 1988, dir: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Vahid Jalilvand, No Date, No Signature
Special Jury Prize
Caniba, dirs: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel
Lyna Khoudri, Les Bienheureux
Navid Mohammadzadeh, No Date, No Signature
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
Idi I Smotri, dir: Elem Klimov
Best Documentary on Cinema
The Prince And The Dybbuk, dirs: Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosolowski
VENICE VIRTUAL REALITY
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