September 10, 2011 / 6:03 PM / in 6 years

Russian film "Faust" takes top prize in Venice

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - Russian director Alexander Sokurov’s “Faust,” loosely based on Goethe’s classic German text, won the Golden Lion for best picture at the Venice film festival on Saturday.

<p>Alexander Sokurov, director of "Faust", bows after receiving the Golden Lion award during the closing ceremony of the 68th Venice Film Festival September 10, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>

The best director Silver Lion went to Chinese film maker Shangjun Cai for “People Mountain People Sea.”

Italian immigration movie “Terraferma,” directed by Emanuele Crialese, picked up the special jury award.

As expected, Irish actor Michael Fassbender won the best actor prize for his acclaimed performance in “Shame,” Steve McQueen’s tale of a sex-obsessed young professional living in New York.

Fassbender, seen as one of the rising stars in independent cinema, also appeared in another Venice competition entry this year, David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method.”

Best actress went to China’s Deanie Ip for her protrayal of an aging maid in Ann Hui’s “Tao Jie” (A Simple Life).

The best screenplay prize went to Greek drama “Alps,” a strange tale of a group of actors who play the role of recently deceased people to ease their relatives’ grief.

“Wuthering Heights,” British director Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of the Emily Bronte novel, won the technical award for best cinematography.

Outside the main competition, singer Madonna presented her second feature film as director, “W.E.,” about a modern-day woman who becomes obsessed with Wallis Simpson and her love for King Edward VIII.

And Steven Soderbergh assembled an all-star cast for “Contagion,” a story about the spread of disease and fear around the world featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Matt Damon and Kate Winslet.

Hollywood veteran Al Pacino also hit the red carpet earlier in the festival for his documentary “Wilde Salome” and to receive a special award.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi

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