A festival jury headed by veteran filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci has adjudged Italian documentary "Sacro GRA" as the annual film fest's best film this year. For its director Gianfranco Rosi's excellent exploration of the lives of people who live and work around the famous Rome ring highway, "Sacro GRA" bagged the Golden Lion Award, the festival's highest honor, becoming the first documentary to ever win the coveted award.
Receiving the trophy from Venice Biennale president Paolo Baratta on Saturday night, September 7, Rosi said it was "an incredible honor." Unfortunately, Rosi failed to win the Silver Lion prize for directing, which went to Greece's Alexandros Avranas, director of special jury prize winner "Miss Violence", a film about the suicide of an 11-year-old girl.
"I didn't expect to win such an important prize with a documentary," said Rosi after his work became the first Italian production in fifteen years to bring home the Golden Lion trophy. "It was truly an act of courage, a barrier has been broken," the filmmaker described his latest feat.
Apart from the surprise win of "Sacro GRA", the night was full of other unexpected winners, among them was Elena Cotta as Best Actress for "A Street in Palermo", which many thought would go to Judi Dench for her masterful acting in "Philomena". Nonetheless, the Stephen Frears film did walk away with the Best Screenplay Award for the writing tandem of Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.