VENICE – Oscar-winning Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Evil Does Not Exist” won the runner-up Grand Jury Prize award on Saturday at the 80th Venice International Film Festival.
With his latest feat, he follows in the footsteps of renowned director Akira Kurosawa, who also bagged awards at all of the top three prestigious film festivals in Venice, Berlin and Cannes, as well as at the Oscars in the United States.
The last time a Japanese filmmaker won an award at Venice was in 2020 when Kiyoshi Kurosawa won a Silver Lion for best director for “Wife of a Spy” (Spy no Tsuma), which followed the story of a couple in 1940 in the western Japan city of Kobe before the outbreak of World War II.
Hamaguchi has garnered a string of global accolades, including for his work “Drive My Car,” which won the best international feature at the 94th U.S. Academy Awards last year.
The director wrote the script for the 106-minute film after he was requested by musician Eiko Ishibashi, who composed the score for “Drive My Car,” to produce a video for her live performance.
“I never thought about receiving this wonderful award when the project began,” Hamaguchi said in his award acceptance speech. “The music of Ms. Eiko Ishibashi, the originator of the project, led me to a job I have never experienced before.”
His winning film in Venice depicts how the tranquil life of a man and his daughter in a village near Tokyo is upended by a proposed high-end glamor camping, or “glamping,” site that threatens the local water supply and ecology.
The film was also recently recognized by the International Federation of Film Critics with the competition award.
Hamaguchi won best screenplay at the 74th Cannes International Film Festival in 2021 and was awarded the runner-up Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival for “Guzen to sozo” (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy), a collection of three short stories on chance and coincidence each revolving around a woman.
ROME (AP) — “Poor Things,” a film about Victorian-era female empowerment, won the Golden Lion on Saturday at a Venice Film Festival largely deprived of Hollywood glamour because of the writers and actors strikes.
The film, starring Emma Stone, won the top prize at the 80th edition of the festival, which is often a predictor of Oscar glory. Receiving the award, director Yorgos Lanthimos said the film wouldn’t exist without Stone, who was also a producer but was not on the Lido for the festival.
“This film is her, in front and behind the camera,” Lanthimos said.
The film, based on Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel of the same name, tells the tale of Bella Baxter, who is brought back to life by a scientist and, after a whirlwind learning curve, runs off with a sleazy lawyer and embarks on a series of adventures devoid of the societal judgements of the era.
Other top winners on the Lido were two films shaming Europe for its migration policies.
“Io Capitano,” (Me Captain) by Matteo Garrone, won the award for best director while Garrone’s young star, Seydou Sarr, won the award for best young actor. The film tells the story of two young boys’ odyssey from Dakar, Senegal, to the detention camps in Libya and finally across the Mediterranean to Europe.
Agnieszka Holland’s “Green Border,” about Europe’s other migration crisis on the Polish-Belarus border, won the Special Jury Prize.
“People are still hiding in forests, deprived of their dignity, of their human rights, of their safety, and some of them will lose their lives here in Europe,” Holland told the audience. “Not because we don’t have the resources to help them but because we don’t want to.”
Peter Sarsgaard won best actor for “Memory,” in which he co-stars with Jessica Chastain in a film about high schoolers reuniting. In his acceptance speech, Sarsgaard referred to the strike and artificial intelligence and the threat it poses to the industry and beyond.
“I think we could all really agree that an actor is a person and that a writer is a person. But it seems that we can’t,” he said. “And that’s terrifying because this work we do is about connection. And without that, this animated space between us, this sacrament, this holy experience of being human, will be handed over to the machines and the eight billionaires that own them.”
Cailee Spaeny won best actress for “Priscilla,” Sofia Coppola’s portrait of the private side of Priscilla and Elvis Presley.
The jury was headed by Damien Chazelle and included Saleh Bakri, Jane Campion, Mia Hansen-Løve, Gabriele Mainetti, Martin McDonagh, Santiago Mitre, Laura Poitras and Shu Qi.