Still Life (Sanxia Haoren), thelast-minute competition entry by cult Chinese director JiaZhangke, was the surprise winner of the Golden Lionfor Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. Added to the list of 21 competitionfilms halfway through the 12-day Italian festival, Zhangke'sfifth feature, with a slow pace and near absence of plot that alienated manycritics, is set against the background of China's controversial Three GorgesDam project.

Commenting on his GoldenLion, a beaming Zhangke declared that he would"continue to support the weaker sections of thepopulationof my country in my films... for me, this prize representsa recognition of my commitment to this approach".

The Silver Lion for BestDirector went to veteran French director Alain Resnaisfor Private Fears InPublic Places, a dark romantic ensemble comedy based on the drama of thesame name by UKplaywright Alan Ayckbourn. An absent Ben Affleck (hethanked the festival via SMS) also defied award predictions by lifting the Coppa Volpi Best Actor prize forhis performance as 1950s TV Superman George Reeves in Alan Coulter's Hollywoodland,while the Coppa Volpi forBest Actress was awarded to the hotly tipped Helen Mirrenfor her portayal of Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears' The Queen.

The Special Jury Prize wentto Daratt (Dry Season), by Chadian director Mahamat Saleh-Haroun - one ofthree main competition contenders that were commissioned by Vienna's upcoming New Crowned Hope festival.

Rumours that the seven members of the international jury couldnot reach a consensus were lent weight when jury president Catherine Deneuve convened an unscheduled emergency meeting on themorning of the award ceremony - a time when prizewinners would normally beexpected to be winging their way back to the Lido.According to festival director Marco Mueller, the meeting was called becausethe jury - which also comprised Bigas Luna, Paulo Branco, Cameron Crowe, Chulpan Khamatova, Park Chan-wook andMichele Placido - neededto "clarify an interpretation of the regulations".

In the light of the jury'sdecision, it seems more than likely that the clarification regarded the "SilverLion Revelation" award that was given to Italian director EmanueleCrialese's US immigration saga Golden Door (Nuovomondo),a hit with both critics and public. This one-off award appears nowhere in theBiennale rule-sheet, and was clearly intended as a consolation prize for Crialese, whose film, according to inside sources, lost theBest Film prize by a single vote.

After the prize ceremony, Deneuve cut short speculation of jury fireworks bydeclaring that "we didn't have a long discussion about the winner... it hadeverything we liked: beautiful photography, a great story, and characters thatmoved us".

A discretionary Special Lionwas awarded to arthouse duo Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, directors of the68-minute Quei Loro Incontri, for "innovation in the language of cinema".

Emmanuel Lubezki,whose inventive cine-verite action photographyenlivened Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi parable Children of Men, received the Osella for Best Technical Contribution, while Peter Morgan'swidely-praised script for The Queenpicked up the Best Screenplay Osella.

The Marcello Mastroianni award for Best Young Actor went to Isilde Le Besco for her turn as ayoung actress who goes on a quest to India to find her father in Benoit Jacquot's The Intouchable.

The parallel Horizonscompetition, intended for more experimental films, was won by Courtroom On Horseback (MabeiShang De Fating), the first directorial featureby Chinese DoP Liu Jie,while Spike Lee's four-hour documentary about the devastating 2005 New Orleansfloods, When the Levees Broke: A Requiemin Four Acts, scooped the Horizons Doc Prize.

The lucrative Luigi de Laurentiis prize for a first film from any of thefestival's sections went to Kadakh, a surreal, Mongolian-set ethno-drama byBelgian-based directing team Peter Brosens andJessica Woodworth, which screened in the independent Venice Days sidebar.

In Critics' Week, thefestival's other unofficial sidebar, Dito Montiel's A Guide toRecognizing Your Saints - produced by Sting's wife TrudieStyler - was awarded the Best Film prize by thethree-man jury, adding the prize to the two the film picked up at this year'sSundance Festival.

Full list of official festival awards:

Golden Lion for Best Film - Still Life (Sanxia Haoren)by Jia Zhangke

Silver Lion for Best Director - Alain Resnaisfor Private Fears InPublic Places

Silver Lion Revelation - Emanuele Crialese for GoldenDoor (Nuovomondo)

Special Jury Prize - DrySeason (Daratt) by Mahamat-SalehHaroun

Coppa Volpi for Best Actor - Ben Affleck for Hollywoodland

Coppa Volpi for Best Actress - Helen Mirrenfor The Queen

Osella forBest Screenplay - Peter Morgan for The Queen

Osella for Best Technical Contribution - Emmanuel Lubezki, DoP of Children ofMen

Marcello Mastroianni Award forBest Young Actor - Isild Le Besco,for L'Intouchable

Special Lion - Jean-Marie Straub and DanieleHuillet for innovation in the language of cinema

Horizons Prize - CourtroomOn Horseback (Mabei shang de fating) by Liu Jie

Horizons Doc Prize - WhenThe Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts by SpikeLee

Luigi de Laurentiis prize for BestFirst Film - Khadakby Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth

Corto Cortissimo Lion for Best Short Film - Comment on freine dansune descente' by Alix Delaporte

Prix UIP for Best European Short - The Making of Parts by Daniel Elliott

Special Mention (short film) - Adults Only by Yeo JoonHan