'You would think the second Lion would be easier and quite emotional to receive but it is the opposite,' Ang Lee said after becoming the surprise recipient of this year's Golden Lion, two years after his win for Brokeback Mountain.
'This one is a wild one and I almost want to say it frightens me almost like the film I made.'
His erotically-charged espionage thriller Lust, Caution (Se, Jie), like Brokeback, was based on a short story that the director says he could not get out of his mind.
Set in 1940s Japanese occupied Shanghai, Lust, Caution is taken from Eileen Chang's tale of a radical student (Tang Wei) on a mission to seduce and kill a politician (Tony Leung) who has collaborated with the occupiers.
He said thevictorywas especiallysweetbecause it was awarded by a jury composed of seven directors - 'the seven Samurai,' joked Lee. 'Coming from you this is an amazing honour,' he said.
Lust, Caution was also awarded Venice's cinematography award for DOP Rodrigo Prieto.
The film's Golden Lion completes a three-year hat-trick for Asian cinema. Last year Chinese director Jia Zhangke won for Still Life.
This year's Silver Lion for best director went to Brian De Palma for his Iraq-themed Redacted.
With its high-definition format, the director himself calls the film 'an experiment' but it was one that hit a chord with the jury.
De Palma says he told a similar story to Redacted 18-years ago in his Vietnam-themed film Casualties of War.
The film is centered on a group of American soldiers and a real event that De Palma read about on the internet concerning the rape of an Iraqi girl and her family's brutal killing.
De Palma was last in Venice with The Black Dahlia, a star-studded noir film that opened the 2006 Venice Film Festival, in competition, to a lukewarm reception.
De Palma's win sparked several questions at the post awards post ceremony press conference as to why Paul Haggis' The Valley of Elah, also an Iraq themed film, and which was very well received on the Lido, was shut out of the awards.
Jury president Zhang Yimou simply told journalists, 'Even if all seven of us had the help of the heavens we couldn't have given a judgment that pleased everyone.'
However, Yimou did say that the jury prize caused the most debate.
'The deliberations for the grand prize of the jury went on a long time because there were two films and that way we could honour both films with an ex aequo prize.'
From France, Abdellatif Kechiche's The Secret of the Grain won the award ex aequo with Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan themed film I'm not There.
Grain is a drama set in a depressed industrial French port focusing on an Arab immigrant who loses his job of 35 years and who helps his girlfriend's daughter with the opening of a Couscous restaurant.
Many on the Lido had tipped Kechiche's film for the top prize.
Kechiche is back in Venice after his 2000 film Blame It On Voltaire took the Lion of the Future award.
The Secret of the Grain's principal actress Hafsia Herzi was awarded the Marcello Mastroianni award for best emerging actress. Herzi was overcome with emotions at her win and broke out in a tearful acceptance speech.
Of his award, Todd Haynes said, 'it is so humbling to get two prizes,
it is so encouraging,' repeating the evening's refrain that an award
from a jury of directors held more meaning.
I'm not There , features an ensemble cast playing music legend Bob
Dylan in various phases of his life - at times confusing, the choice
was another indication of the jury esteeming new styles from
Jury member director Alejandro Inarritu explained, 'While I didn't
understand how that train was running,' he said in reference of the
film's complicated structure, 'I found myself on that train.'
Also for Todd Haynes picture, Cate Blanchett was awarded the female
acting prize for her stunning portrayal of Dylan.
Haynes was quick to point out that the film was difficult to finance
and he credited European pre-sales in Cannes and the commitment from
the actors (some said they worked for free on the project) for getting
the project off the ground.
Actor Heath Ledger, who arrived on stage in striped socks, old shorts
and a black hat accepted the award for Blanchett, saying, 'I am sorry
that the beautiful Cate Blanchett can not be here and instead you are
stuck with this dirt bag.'
In a note Blanchett thanked Venice artistic director Marco Mueller for
submitting the film for competition. She also thanked director Todd
Haynes for helping 'put aside my fear.'
A special Lion for overall work was awarded to Russian director Nikita
Mikhalkov. 'The jury is delighted to acknowledge the consistent
brilliance of Nikita Michelob's body of work, his new film is once
again a confirmation of his mastery in exploring and revealing to us,
with great humanity and emotion, the complexity of existence.'
Mikhalkov was in competition with 12.
Finally, actor Brad Pitt was awarded the male acting award for his
role in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.
Yimou offered strong compliments to Pitt. 'Our jury wanted to reward
him for the challenge he gave himself and the research that he did to
uncover the heart of the character he portrayed.'
Screenwriting honours were given to Paul Laverty for Ken Loach's It's A
Free World . Laverty thanked all the actors on the project. 'If you
look into an actor's eyes and you don't believe them well I think we
all either sink or swim together,' he said.
Meanwhile Atonement, another UK submission directed by Joe Wright's
film and that opened the festival to rave reviews was also shut out of
Yimou said that the film had arrived to 'final deliberations' but that
there were enough prizes for everyone.
Bill Mechanic awarded the Luigi De Laurentiis 'Lion of the Future'
award to Rodrigo Pla's La Zona from the Venice Days side bar. The
prize carries $100,000 in prize money and Euro 40,000 in Kodak film.
The jury for the Horizons section dedicated to new trends in
Film-making was presided over by American director Greg Araki.
Horizon's feature prize was given to the Estonian film Autumn Ball
(Sugisball) by Veiko Ounpuu.
Horizons doc prize went to last year's Golden Lion winner Jia Zhangke
for his documentary Useless (Wuyong).
A special mention was given in Horizons to Philippine director Lav
Diaz's Death In The Land Of Encantos, about the consequences of
typhoon Reming in 2006.
Bernardo Bertolucci was awarded a special Golden Lion of the 75th in
honor of the festival's jubilee anniversary since its inception in
1932. 'It would be difficult to find words for such an important
prize,' he said. 'This prize identifies me with Cinema.'
Venice's Critic's Week prize, in its 22nd edition, went to Taiwanese
entry The Most Distance Course (Zui Yoayuan de Juli) by newcomer Lin
Separately, some collateral prizes were given out including Europa
Cinemas Label, which went to Tricks (Sztuczki) by Polish director
Andrzej Jaikmowski. The film was selected out of the Venice Day's
non-competitive side bar and will give the film extended theatrical
exposure and additional promotion from the Europa Cinemas network.
The new Queer Lion was awarded to New York director Ed Radtke
for his work The Speed of Life.
The award is an initiative of CinemArte, a Venetian cultural organization, with the
support of the Venice Municipality. Sleuth, directed by Kenneth
Branagh and presented in competition was given a special mention by
the Queer Lion jury, which was composed of film distributors, writers