Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras won the Golden Lion in Venice this Saturday for All the Beauty and Bloodshed, a film that highlights the career of photographer Nan Goldin, a figure in the New York underground, and her fight against opiates in the United States.
The Venice Film Festival shone the spotlight on the drama of opiates by crowning the documentary All the Beauty and Bloodshed about photographer Nan Goldin and her relentless fight against this health scandal that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States.
The jury chaired by actress Julianne Moore awarded its Golden Lion to the director, Laura Poitras, 58, and thus crowns a third director in a row, after the French Audrey Diwan last year (The Event) and Chinese-American Chloé Zhao (nomadland) in 2020.
Above all, he distinguishes a pugnacious personality who relentlessly probes the gray areas of America: after having worked on the American occupation in Iraq then Guantanamo, she became the confidante of the whistleblower Edward Snowden and realized Citizenfour (2015), which won the Oscar for Best Documentary.
No shattering revelations this time in All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, the award-winning film at Venice, but a journey through the life of Nan Goldin, a 68-year-old photographer known for her shots of the New York underground and who has seen so much death, from AIDS to the opiate crisis, her last fight. Because Nan Goldin, who had returned from Venice and could not pick up her prize, took the lead in a David against Goliath fight against the Sackler family, main producers of opiates, painkillers who made people addicted and killed half a million Americans over the past two decades. “I’ve known a lot of brave people in my life, but no one like (Nan Goldin), who fought this very powerful family“said the director when receiving her award.
The Venice jury sent another political signal by awarding a Special Prize to the director Jafar Panahi, showing that the cinema would not bend before censorship in Iran and offering its support to a filmmaker who pays with his freedom for his desire to create.
Golden Lion in 2000 with The circle, Panahi is the only filmmaker in competition not to have been able to walk the red carpet, imprisoned since July by the mullahs’ regime. In No Bears (Bears don’t exist), the award-winning film, he puts his own situation in abyss, a brilliant snub to censorship.
Slap for Netflix
But the Venetian ceremony, which acts as a launching pad for the Oscars, after the “success stories” of films like nomadland by Chloé Zhao, Golden Lion in 2020 or Rome of Alfonso Cuaron, two years before, did not forget the glamour. The acting awards went to red carpet stars, Cate Blanchett (Tar) and Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin).
On the other hand, the prize list sounds like a slap in the face for the online video giant Netflix, in search of cinephile legitimacy in Venice. Deprived of Cannes competition because his films are not released in theaters, he has his napkin ring on the Lido where he presented no less than four films. Alas, nor the performance of Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in the biopic Blonde haironline at the end of September, nor the excessiveness of the Frenchman Romain Gavras in his description of the insurrection of a suburb (“Athena”) did not convince the jury. No more than the Mexican Alejandro González Iñárritu, who lost the spectators in the meanders of his bardoor the American Noah Baumbach, who has not regained the charm of his previous films with White Noise.
List of main prizes:
Golden Lion for Best Film: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed by Laura Poitras (USA)
Silver Lion – Grand Jury Prize and Future Lion – Best First Work: Saint Omer by Alice Diop (France)
Silver Lion – Best Direction Award: Italian Luca Guadagnino for Bones and all
Best Actress Award: Australian Cate Blanchett for her role in Tar by Todd Field
Best Actor Award: Irishman Colin Farrell for his role in The Banshees of Inisherin by Martin McDonagh
Marcello Mastroianni Award for Most Promising Actor or Female: Actress Taylor Russell for her role in Bones and all by Luca Guadagnino
Special Jury Prize: Bears don’t exist by Jafar Panahi (Iran)
Best Screenplay Award: The Banshees of Inisherin by Irishman Martin McDonagh