Venice: Polemics, Possible Prizewinners & A Late-Fest Red Carpet Protest

The Venice Film Festival draws to a close this evening, when prizes will be handed out by Lucrecia Martels jury. Its been a hot 10 days on the Lido, and not just because the mercury was stifling throughout. We expected controversy coming in, and certainly the inclusion of Roman Polanskis An Officer And A Spy in competition caused a stir at the outset — Martel on opening day seemed to suggest she might not give the film a fair shake, only to clarify her remarks 24 hours later.

It was relatively smooth sailing from then on, with pictures vying for the Golden Lion generally well-received. Much attention focused on Warner Bros Joker and Netflixs Marriage Story which both got extended standing ovations.

It aint over til its over, however, and early this morning a protest broke out on the red carpet. About 200 people from the No Large Ships committee occupied the area in front of the Palazzo del Cinema. A peaceful proceeding, it focused largely on climate change. The local police presence has been reinforced, according to Rai News. It remains to be seen if this will cause any disruption to this evenings awards ceremony, although the Venice Climate Camp Facebook page also appears to be calling for action at 5pm tonight.

Turning back to the films, Polanskis movie was certainly well received by non-U.S. critics, scoring 4.5 stars with the Italian contingent, and landing as the 2nd most praised among international critics in polls published in the fests official daily. Watchers we spoke with are skeptical the film ascends the Sala Grande stage for a major prize tonight, although the Italian critics last year heavily favored eventual Golden Lion winner Roma and have been predictive in the past. Still, Martel has “some hesitation” on Polanski, Venice chief Alberto Barbera confirmed to Deadline mid-fest, but he also said he does not believe there will be any prejudice in the deliberations.

Whatever the outcome, An Officer And A Spy is not expected to be a factor in the Oscar conversation (though France could conceivably submit it), while other Venice titles with major promise are just getting going. The festival has world premiered a Best Picture winner three out of the last five years, even if each of the eventual Academy Awards laureates did not debut in Competition (think: Spotlight).

Of high-profile competition films that screened through Thursday, among the best received are Noah Baumbachs Marriage Story, Todd Phillips Joker, Steven Soderberghs The Laundromat and James Grays Ad Astra. (Oscar nominee Ciro Guerras Waiting For The Barbarians, starring Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson screened Friday and was generally well-received.)

Venice has been the launchpad for the last three years Best Actress winners: Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri) and Emma Stone (La La Land). McDormand, however, did not win the Volpi Cup on the Lido whereas the other two did. Among the favorites this year are Marriage Storys Scarlett Johansson, while theres also buzz around Chinas Gong Li (Saturday Fiction) and feature newcomer Mariana di Girolamo (Ema).

There has been little Oscar crossover for the men in the past, but that could change this year. Both Marriage Storys Adam Driver and Jokers Joaquin Phoenix are considered frontrunners. They are also previous winners on the Lido, with 2014s Hungry Hearts and 2012s The Master, respectively. If either repeats a Volpi Cup win, tRead More – Source