Philippine revenge drama wins Venice Film Festival's top prize

Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:18pm EDT
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By Agnieszka Flak

VENICE (Reuters) - A nearly four-hour long movie about a woman's thirst for revenge and her feelings of forgiveness after 30 years in jail for a crime she did not commit won the Venice Film Festival's top prize on Saturday.

Director Lav Diaz has described "Ang Babaeng Humayo" ("The Woman Who Left") as a testimony to the struggles of the Philippines after centuries of colonial rule.

"This is for my country, for the Filipino people, for our struggle, for the struggle of humanity," the 57-year-old said as he accepted the Golden Lion award for his black-and-white movie.

Diaz, who at the Berlin Film Festival in February had premiered a film that ran over eight hours, said he hoped the latest recognition would create more appreciation for longer movies.

"Cinema is still very young, you can still push it," he said.

Twenty U.S. and international movies featuring top Hollywood talent and auteur directors were in competition at the world's oldest film festival, in its 73rd outing this year. The event is seen as a launching pad for the industry's award season.

All the movies that won awards were examples of directors' "lack of compromise, (their) imagination, original vision, daring, and a kind of pure identity," said Sam Mendes, known for directing James Bond movies "Skyfall" and "Spectre", who headed the jury. "It's taken me out of my comfort zone."

Mendes said he hoped the awards would help the films get distributed.   Continued...

Director Lav Diaz (C) poses with actress Charo Santos-Concio (L) and actor John Lloyd Cruz (R) as they attend the photo call for the movie "Ang Babaeng Humayo" (The Woman Who Left) at the 73rd Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi