Jennifer Kent’s ‘The Nightingale’ wins two prizes in Venice

Aisling Franciosi, Jennifer Kent, Baykali Ganambarr and Kristina Ceyton in Venice.

Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale has won the special jury prize at the Venice International Film Festival while the Marcello Mastroianni award for best new young performer went to star Baykali Ganambarr.

Accepting her prize Kent said: “To all those women out there wanting to make films, please go and do it. We need you. The feminine force is the most powerful and healing force on the planet. I’m confident next year and the year after we’ll see more and more women inhabiting this space.”

That was a clear reference to the storm of criticism over her film being the only one from a female director among the 21 titles in competition. Earlier Kent had responded graciously when asked about the racist and sexist reactions to the film at a media screening.

Ganambarr, who hails from a remote island north east of Darwin, has performed with the Indigenous dance troupe Djuki Mala since it was formed 11 years ago. In his screen debut in The Nightingale he plays an Aboriginal tracker named Billy who accompanies young Irish convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi) as she pursues British officer Hawkins (Sam Claflin), who wronged her family.

Baykali thanked the director “for having told the story of our past in Tasmania truthfully.”

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said: “For the film to win two awards with the level of competition is an extraordinary honour. This award continues the strong history of Australian films at Venice with Sweet Country, Hacksaw Ridge and Tanna who all are recent and memorable Venice alumni.”

Mason congratulated the director and Baykali as well as the cast and crew and the producers, Causeway Films’ Kristina Ceyton and Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea and Steve Hutensky.

Meanwhile Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, which was co-written by Tony McNamara, took the grand jury prize and Olivia Colman, one of the three female leads, was named best actress.

Set in the early 18th century during the England-French wars, the drama follows frail Queen Anne (Colman) and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), who governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper.

When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah who asks to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Fox will launch the film co-scripted by Deborah Davis in Australia on Boxing Day.

Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white drama Roma, drawn from the director’s memories of growing up in Mexico City in the early 1970s, won the Golden Lion, the first movie from Netflix to be accorded such an honour at a major festival

Netflix also scored with Joel and Ethan Coen’s Western The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs which won best screenplay. Willem Dafoe was named best actor for his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh in Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate.

The best director award went to French filmmaker Jacques Audiard for The Sisters Brothers.

In the Horizons section, the best film award went to Manta Ray by Thai filmmaker Phuttiphong Aroonpheng and best director to Emir Baigazin for The River.

The special jury prize went to Turkish director Mahmut Fazil Coşkun for The Announcement. The Day I Lost My Shadow by Syrian director Soudade Kaadan was named best debut film.

The Great Buster: A Celebration by Peter Bogdanovich was crowned best documentary on cinema for its study of the great Buster Keaton.

Golden Lion

Roma – Alfonso Cuarón (Mexico)

Silver Lion – Grand Jury Prize
The Favourite – Yorgos Lanthimos (Ireland/United Kingdom/United States)

Silver Lion – Award for Best Director
Jacques Audiard – The Sisters Brothers (United States/France/Romania/Spain)

Special Jury Prize
The Nightingale – Jennifer Kent (Australia)

Volpi Cup for Best Actress
Olivia Colman – The Favourite

Volpi Cup for Best Actor
Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate (United States/France/United Kingdom)

Award for Best Screenplay
Joel & Ethan Coen – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (United States)

Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Talent
Baykali Ganambarr – The Nightingale

Lion of the Future – “Luigi de Laurentiis” Award for a Debut Film
The Day I Lost My Shadow – Soudade Kaadan (Syria/Lebanon/France/Qatar)


Best Film
Manta Ray – Phuttiphong Aroonpheng (Thailand/France/China)

Best Director
Emir Baigazin – The River (Kazakhstan/Poland/Norway/Netherlands)

Special Jury Prize
The Announcement – Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun (Turkey/Bulgaria)

Best Actress
Natalya Kudryashova – The Man Who Surprised Everyone (Russia/Estonia/France)

Best Actor
Kais Nashif – Tel Aviv On Fire (Luxembourg/Belgium/Israel/France)

Best Screenplay
Pema Tseden – Jinpa (China)

Best Short Film
A Gift (Kado) – Aditya Ahmad (Indonesia)

Venice Classics

Best Restored Film
The Night of the Shooting Stars – Paolo & Vittorio Taviani (Italy)

Best Documentary on Cinema
The Great Buster: A Celebration – Peter Bogdanovich (United States)

Venice Virtual Reality

Best VR
Spheres – Eliza McNitt (United States/France)

Best Experience
Buddy VR – Chuck Chae (South Korea)

Best Story
L’Île des morts – Benjamin Nuel (France)