Favoritism charges follow Tarantino Venice awards
By Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi
VENICE (Reuters) - Jury president Quentin Tarantino faced charges of favoritism Sunday after he handed out two major awards at Venice film festival to his friends, including best picture to his ex partner Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere."
Another friend and mentor Monte Hellman landed a special career award, and Spanish entry "Balada Triste de Trompeta," which picked up the director and screenplay prizes for Alex de la Iglesia, was widely panned by critics on the Lido waterfront.
Add to that a best actor award for Vincent Gallo in "Essential Killing," during which he uttered not a single word, and no prizes for Italian films, and Saturday's closing ceremony was one of the most unpredictable in years.
"The (jury) presidency of Quentin Tarantino runs the risk of being the most obvious conflict of interest, given that Somewhere and (Hellman's) Road to Nowhere seemed charming and intriguing but nothing more," wrote Paolo Mereghetti, veteran film critic for Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Sunday.
Tarantino was quick to reject suggestions of favoritism.
"I wasn't going to let anything like that affect me at all," he told reporters after the awards were announced at the end of the September 1-11 festival. "I was just going to literally respond to the film. There was no me steering any direction."
Somewhere, which won the prestigious Golden Lion best picture award, is an insider's look at the life of a Hollywood actor who becomes numb to life through drink, drugs and a string of one-night stands, and stars Stephen Dorff as Johnny Marco.
His days are divided between five-stars hotels, Ferraris and blonde pin-ups, but also loneliness, tiresome media attention and boredom, and he is finally faced with the question of where a life so enviable on the surface is ultimately heading. Continued...