Korean film wins Venice, Hoffman, Phoenix honored

Sat Sep 8, 2012 4:24pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - South Korean movie "Pieta", an ultra-violent story of a loan shark confronted by a mysterious woman claiming to be his mother, scooped the Golden Lion award for best picture at the Venice film festival on Saturday.

The other big winner on the night was Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master", loosely based on the early days of Scientology, which earned him a Silver Lion for best director and a joint best actor award for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix.

All three prizes will be popular on the Lido waterfront, where critics praised Pieta's visceral portrayal of a twisted story of love and revenge, difficult at times to watch but also absorbing and moving in equal measure.

Director Kim Ki-duk sang a traditional Korean song "Arirang" as part of his acceptance speech, and later told reporters: "This is a song that we Koreans sing when we are sad, when we feel alone, when we feel desperate, but also when we're happy."

Asked how he felt about receiving the award, he picked up the Golden Lion and kissed it.

Hoffman, playing a character based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Phoenix as his troubled, volatile protege, were clear front runners for the acting prize and both are expected to be in the frame when Oscar nominations are announced.

Hoffman rushed back to Italy to accept the awards on his own and his colleagues' behalf.

"I just got off a plane, like, five minutes ago, literally," he told the red carpet awards ceremony.   Continued...

South Korean director Kim Ki-duk holds the Golden Lion prize for best movie "Pieta" at the 69th Venice Film Festival in Venice September 8, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile