Women Lead The Awards At The 78th Venice International Film Festival

"The Berlin Wall coming down for women"

Article heading image for Women Lead The Awards At The 78th Venice International Film Festival

Audrey Diwan's "Happening" wins the Golden Lion Award. Getty Images.

Women have dominated at the 78th Venice International Film Festival. 

With an abundant lineup of exciting films and a plethora of stars, this year's glitzy affair went off with a bang, after the pandemic made 2020's event tame in comparison.

Happening a timely film centring around illegal abortions in 1960s France won the top prize, the festival's Golden Lion Award. Director Audrey Diwan’s film comes amid the raging abortion debate sparked by new restrictions in Texas and its decriminalisation in Mexico. 

“I did this movie with anger, with desire, with my belly, my guts, my heart and my head," said Ms Diwan, accepting the award for her gut-wrenching drama.

Best Screenplay went to Maggie Gyllenhaal for her directorial debut The Lost Daughter: a stark look into the difficulties women face balancing motherhood and their careers. 

Best Director went to New Zealand auteur Jane Campion for an emotionally complex Western called The Power of the Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. 

"There is a change in the air. It's like the Berlin Wall coming down for women," Ms Campion said, regarding the MeToo movement's influence on the film. 

Jane Campion won the Silver Lion for Best Director for The Power Of The Dog. Source: Getty Images

Penelope Cruz is certainly having a moment, winning Best Actress for her performance in Parallel Mothers, a story exploring the trauma of the 1930s Spanish Civil War through the eyes of two mothers sharing a maternity ward. 

Penelope Cruz accepts the award for Best Actress for her performance in Parallel Mothers at the 2021 Venice Film Festival. Source: Getty Images 

Cruz is generating Oscar buzz for her work in a surprisingly political turn for veteran auteur Pedro Almodovar. 

Kristen Stewart is also grabbing headlines for her eerily uncanny portrayal as Princess Diana in the film Spencer. We may see Stewart achieve Oscar glory in the coming months. 

In recent years, the award success in Venice has become a key launchpad for Academy Award campaigns. 

The last four winners were Nomadland, Joker, Roma and The Shape Of Water - all of which went on to achieve Oscar success. 

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13 September 2021

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