As Venice wrapped its 67th edition – Quentin Tarantino dominated the winner’s press conference as journalists questioned the jury’s selection.
First and most significantly, there has been a rule change at Venice thanks to Tarantino’s input.
Up until this year films that win the Golden Lion, Silver Lion or jury prize, can’t win the Coppa Volpi for actor or actress or the Marcello Mastroianni award for a young actor or actress. Now, Silver and Jury prizewinners can also win in the acting categories.
The film that sparked the change was Jerzy Skolimowski’s Essential Killing, which took both the Jury Prize and the Coppa Volpi for best actor to Vincent Gallo.
Tarantino said, “Yes, I told Marco (Mueller) that is a crazy rule and can’t work so – what? You say the best actress can only go to the movies that are not the best? For the Golden Lion it makes sense, it includes everything, but on the other two, I disagreed and Marco agreed. And by the way, that is no longer a rule.”
The biennale has confirmed that the modification was made to the rule, and it will stand.
Tarantino’s jury also made another double prize in Alex de la Iglesia’s A Sad Trumpet Ballad, but in the case of the Osella technical prizes (in this case for best screenplay) Biennale rules already permitted doubling up.
At times defensive in the conference, Tarantino said, “I was adamant the screenplay award would go to the bestscreenplay and not be a token award – I am a writer that was the best screenplay,” Tarantino declared.
Many questions were thrown at Tarantino – particularly about the shutout for prizes of Asian cinema of which he is a known connoisseur. Takashi Miike’s Samurai picture Thirteen Assassins was considered a contender for an award.
“Of the Asian cinema there were some we cared for and some not – the Takashi Miike film was something we really liked and we appreciated it and sometimes there aren’t enough awards and if there was another award he might have very well gotten it.”
The questions kept rolling in – and Tarantino said it “wouldn’t be appropriate” to comment on every single film.
However it was inevitable that he would be asked about his friendship with Sofia Coppola and if it wasn’t difficult “to award a friend”?
“No, it wasn’t difficult at all and I learned that from Monte Hellman himself – I remember going to him in ‘92 in Sundance when I had Reservoir Dogs, I actually had a friend on the jury and he said “a friend on the jury is the worse person on the jury for you” as they would be too embarrassed to give you a prize. So I wasn’t going to let anything like that affect me. There was no me steering any directions – Sofia doesn’t know any of these other people on the jury and her prize was unanimous.”
When a Chilean journalist asked Tarantino why he gave four prizes to American cinema (Sofia Coppola, Monte Hellman, Vincent Gallo, Mila Kunis), Tarantino didn’t reply in a straightforward fashion, saying he knew the journalist wanted to know why the Chilean film didn’t take a prize.
Indeed, polemics from the Italian cinema community are a probability as no prize was given to Italy.
When asked by ScreenDaily about the courtesy of giving an award to the host country, Tarantino said, “there was no attempt whatsoever to whisper in anyone’s ear to give out a certain award. That was not going to be the case with us - it was beyond question.”
Sofia Coppola – whose film was well liked but had some divided reactions — was emotional as she said, “When I got a call that we got a prize and I was so excited and no idea I would get the Golden Lion and hope it will encourage small personal films to be seen.”
In an endearing moment Jerzy Skolimowski said, “I didn’t expect two awards, obviously I was expecting only one,” he joked. When asked about the difficulties of working with actor Vincent Gallo, he said, “I am willing to forget everything else because I like the film. I don’t know why I don’t like the main character. Because it’s Gallo, or because I have written it this way,” he laughed.
In other comments at the press conference – Monte Hellman said he is next working on a fantasy romantic thriller about CIA assassins who fall in love after they are dead.
In speaking with the best actress winner Ariane Labed in Attenberg, Tarantino said the film by Athina Rachel Tsangari “grew on us the most, and showed another Greece.”
Critically, this edition of Venice hit a high tone with quality titles throughout the competition. However, the closing of the Des Bains Hotel for restoration has robbed Venice of its most elegant venue and there doesn’t seem to be an adequate replacement until its re-opening. Torrential rains caused flooded streets more than once, while a return to hot, sunny weather came in the last few days of the festival. Midway through this edition the Biennale said that Venice was up in attendance as of the midmark with a 17 percent increase in ticket sales and 4 percent more journalists accredited — of which 1,339 were foreign outlets, as well as an increase by 33 percent of on-line media journalists while international television coverage was up by 45 percent. However, photo and television outlets generally found the star power could be ratcheted up a notch.