65th Venice International Film Festival

The 65th annual Venice International Film Festival, held in Venice, Italy, was opened on 27 August 2008 by Burn After Reading, and closed on 6 September 2008. International competition jury, led by Wim Wenders, awarded Leone d'Oro to The Wrestler, directed by Darren Aronofsky.

65th Venice International Film Festival
Festival poster
Opening filmBurn After Reading
LocationVenice, Italy
AwardsGolden Lion - The Wrestler
Hosted byKsenia Rappoport
Festival date27 August – 6 September 2008

77-year-old Italian film director Ermanno Olmi received a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.[1][2][3]

About the 65th edition of festival

The festival opened on August 27, 2008, with the highly anticipated film directed by the Coen brothers, Burn After Reading. Burn is not running in the official competition and thus is ineligible to win any prizes, but reaction in Venice will indicate whether Joel and Ethan Coen can repeat their success of 2008 with the Academy Award-winning Venice entry, No Country For Old Men.[4]

Unlike the Cannes Film Festival, American filmmakers have only twice won the coveted prize at Venice (with the majority of prizes going to European or Asian filmmakers over the past 65 years). It is also famine for British films, as none were selected for competition in this year's festival.[5] Despite the dearth of English-speaking films, several films at the fest are likely to make a splash at this year's Oscars in Hollywood. A trend has been that several films launched in Venice have gone on to garner multiple Academy Award nominations. In 2005, Taiwan-born director Ang Lee's film, Brokeback Mountain earned its director a Best Director Oscar. Lee has won the top prize at Venice twice in the past few years.[4][6]

The glamour of the Venice Film Festival (attended by many high-profile stars) as well as the link with the upcoming Academy Awards has helped raise the Venice Film Festival's profile. Nonetheless, the event has a long-established reputation for showcasing emerging cinema, including films from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, and this year's lineup proves the same.[7]

Festival organizers have announced that the festival's shorts competition will begin on September 1 with Natalie Portman's directorial debut, Eve. Rising Russian star Kseniya Rappoport will also host the opening and closing ceremonies.[8]

German independent film director Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire) will head the Venice film jury.[9]

According to the International Herald Tribune, the Venice Film Festival will not be without its drama if the water-taxi drivers have any say:

"On the eve of the festival, Venice's water-taxi drivers were threatening to go on strike... The city's deputy mayor, Michele Vianello, at first responded in "make-my-day" mode, telling them to go right ahead, a sentiment shared by most of Venice's inhabitants, the vast majority of whom use public water buses and would only consider taking one of these astronomically expensive private conveyances for weddings, funerals, or if they won the lottery. Vianello subsequently declared the strike illegal, but if it goes ahead, ordinary festivalgoers may find themselves traveling with the stars (the Lido can only be reached by boat)."[5]

The festival will close on September 6, 2008.[9]

This year's Venice Film Festival's film selections had been widely criticized as being among the weakest in years, with some publications even describing it as the "worst ever".[10][11] Later showings made It improve from bad to better,[12][13] but it might have been too late.[14]

The 65th Venice International Film Festival will be dedicated to the late Egyptian director Youssef Chahine. Chahine who died recently at age 82, was a notable in post-war Arab cinema.[9] Festival director Marco Mueller said, "Who else could have succeeded in mixing the philosopher Averroes with Fred Astaire? That's what cinema should be about", Mueller said, referring to Chahine's film "Destiny".[15]

About the films in the festival

Of the 52 films selected to screen at this year's Venice Mostra, only 21 will be competing for the Golden Lion top prize.[15]

Most of the films at Venice will be world premieres, including the "things that go boom" psychological thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker. The film deals with the physical and emotional strains faced by EOD bomb squads in Iraq.[7] Also premiering at the festival is home-grown favorite Birdwatcher directed by Italy's own Marco Bechis. Other strong contenders for the coveted Golden Lion award are the Darren Aronofsky directed film, The Wrestler, and director Barbet Schroeder's entry, L'Inju: la Bete dans l'Ombre.[9]

With no British pictures and a diminished U.S. presence, the Venice Film Festival will focus on Italian and Japanese cinema with four films from each country, including Oscar-winning animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki's latest, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.[16]

European films are also set to dominate the festival, due in part to the American Writer's Guild strike and the effects of the slow down in the film pipeline. Other theories for the lack of American films are the U.S. economy (with dollar's slump vs. the euro), and Hollywood studio belt-tightening.[16] The major U.S. studios have effectively gobbled up all the small independent labels, then went on to make poor development and/or marketing decisions causing the inevitable shuttering or downsizing of these same "independent" labels. Former "indies" such as Warner Independent, New Line and Paramount Vantage are ghosts of the past. The lucrative temptation for studios to bust their budgets with big tent pole films has also meant the hard squeeze on less expensive, but the more challenging-to-market independent films. Risk-averse U.S. majors are seemingly no longer as willing to foot the bill for innovative films made for grownups. Industry trade magazines have pronounced this both as a death and/or a subsequent potential rebirth or "reboot" for independent filmmaking.[17]

"We look for the vitality of cinema where it is hidden, be it in popular works or auteur cinema; it makes no difference to us", festival director Marco Mueller says. Muller added, "The choices I made this year reconfirm an identity for the festival, but I definitely want Venice to stay pluralistic and contradictory." The show this year is packed with Japanese and French titles, and Mueller was compelled to honor domestic films, unfurling the largest Italian contingent on the Lido in ages.[18]

African cinema is also well repped with Ethiopian director Haile Gerima's Teza and Algerian helmer Tariq Teguia is screening Inland.[18]

Asia could win the Golden Lion for best film for the fourth year running. Leading the Japanese line-up is Akires to kame (Achilles and the Tortoise) directed by Takeshi Kitano. Kitano is a favored son in Venice, having already won the 1997 Leone d'Oro for Hana-bi (Fireworks) and who was awarded a special prize for his direction of Zatoichi in 2003.[4]

Films being screen out of competition include 35 Rums by French director Claire Denis, Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami's film, Shirin and an autobiographical documentary by Belgium-born director Agnès Varda.[9]

The "record" for the longest film at this festival (or maybe any) goes to Philippine director Lav Diaz's Melancholia, with a running time of some seven-and-a-half hours, and which is included in the Orizzonti (Horizons) section.[7]

A highlight of this year's Italian retrospective is a restored version of Federico Fellini's 1952 comedy The White Sheik with forty minutes of newly discovered footage.[19]


The international juries of the 65th Venice International Film Festival were composed as follows:[20]

Main Competition (Venezia 65)

Horizons (Orizzonti)

Opera Prima ("Luigi de Laurentiis" Award for a Debut Film)

Official selection

In competition

The competitive section of the official selection is an international competition of feature films in 35mm and digital HD format running for the Golden Lion[21][22]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
Achilles and the TortoiseAkiresu to KameTakeshi KitanoJapan
BirdwatchersLa terra degli uomini rossiMarco BechisItaly
The Burning PlainGuillermo ArriagaUnited States
Giovanna's FatherIl papà di GiovannaPupi AvatiItaly
The Hurt LockerKathryn BigelowUnited States
Inju: The Beast in the ShadowInju, la bête dans l'ombreBarbet SchroederFrance
InlandGabblaTariq TeguiaAlgeria, France
JerichowChristian PetzoldGermany
MilkSütSemih KaplanogluTurkey, France, Germany
The Other OneL’AutrePatrick Mario Bernard, Pierre TrividicFrance
Paper SoldierBumazhnyy soldatAleksei GermanRussia
A Perfect DayUn giorno perfettoFerzan ÖzpetekItaly
Plastic CityDangkouYu Lik-waiBrazil, China, Hong Kong, Japan
PonyoGake no Ue no PonyoHayao MiyazakiJapan
Rachel Getting MarriedJonathan DemmeUnited States
The Seed of DiscordIl seme della discordiaPappi CorsicatoItaly
The Sky CrawlersSukai KuroraMamoru OshiiJapan
TezaHaile GerimaEthiopia, Germany, France
This NightNuit de ChienWerner SchroeterFrance, Germany, Portugal
Vegas: Based on a True StoryAmir NaderiUnited States
The WrestlerDarren AronofskyUSA, France
Highlighted title indicates the Golden Lion winner.

Out of competition

New works by directors who have been honored in past festivals, as well as movies shown in the midnight time band.[23]

Feature films
English title Original title Director(s) Production country
35 Shots of Rum35 RhumsClaire DenisFrance, Spain
The Beaches of AgnèsLes Plages d'AgnesAgnès VardaFrance
Burn After ReadingJoel and Ethan CoenUnited States
Cry Me a River (short)Heshang aiqingJia ZhangkeChina, Spain, France
Embodiment of EvilEncarnação do DemônioJose Mojica MarinsBrazil
Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 SummitGirara no Gyakushū: Tōyako Samitto Kiki IppatsuMinoru KawasakiJapan
Puccini and the GirlPuccini e la fanciullaPaolo Benvenuti & Paola BaroniItaly
Queens of LangkasukaPuen yai jom sa ladNonzee NimibutrThailand
ShirinAbbas KiarostamiIran
VinyanFabrice Du WelzFrance, UK, Belgium
Short films
Title Director(s) Production country
Do Visível ao Invisível (short segment from Mundo Invisível)Manoel de OliveiraBrazil, Portugal
Vicino al Colosseo c’è Monti (documentary, short)Mario MonicelliItaly
Special Event
Title Director(s) Production country
Yuppi duAdriano CelentanoItaly
English title Original title Director(s) Production country
N/ABajo el signo de las sombras (1984 documentary)Ferrán AlberichSpain
Bicycle Thieves (1948)Ladri di bicicletteVittorio De SicaItaly
Cairo Station (1958)Bab el-hadidYoussef ChahineEgypt, France
Life in Shadows (1947)Vida en SombrasLorenzo Llbobet GraciaSpain
Orfeus 9 (1975)Orfeo 9Tito Schipa Jr.Italy
N/ALa rabbia di Pasolini (2008, documentary)Pier Paolo Pasolini, Giuseppe BertolucciItaly
Takadanobaba Duel (1937)Kettô TakadanobabaMasahiro Makino, Hiroshi InagakiJapan
N/ATutto è musica (1963 musical)Domenico ModugnoItaly
Volare (1959)Nel blu dipinto di blu - VolarePiero TelliniItaly

Short film competition

The following films were selected for the Short film competition (Corto Cortissimo) section:[24]

In competition
English title Original title Director(s) Production country
1937Giacomo Gatti Francesco CarrozziniUSA, Italy, France
The AltruistsDe onbaatzuchtigenKoen DejaegherBelgium
Ashes EngagementNoces de cendrePierre Eden SimonBelgium
The Butcher’s ShopPhilip HaasUnited States
Corpus/CorpusChristophe LoizillonFrance
The DinnerVacsoraKarchi PerlmannHungary
Every Breath You TakeVdih (working title)Igor SterkSlovenia
I Don't Dream in GermanIch träume nicht auf DeutschIvana LalovicSwitzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina
I’m in Away from HereCatriona MacInnesUnited Kingdom
Land and BreadTierra y PanCarlos ArmellaMexico
LiesLögnerJonas OdellSweden
MineWodeLiu HuiChina
SandZandJoost Van GinkelNetherlands
The Second ComingTeine tulemineTanel ToomEstonia
The Stars Don't Twinkle in Outer SpacePeter ThwaitesUnited Kingdom
TenDixBifFrance, United Kingdom
We Who Stayed BehindVi der blev tilbageMartin de ThurahDenmark
When I’m 20Khi toi 20Dang Di PhanVietnam
Corto Cortissimo Events - Out of competition
Occasion Title Director(s) Production country
Opening filmEveNatalie PortmanUnited States
Closing filmJarredMartin GaissUnited States
'Event'AlbaGiorgia FarinaItaly
'Event'Il colore della BassaGiuseppe MorandiItaly
'Event'Un canto lontanoAlberto MomoItaly
'Event'Managua BoxingFrediana FornariItaly
Highlighted title indicates Lion for Best Short Film winner.


The following films were selected for the Horizons (Orizzonti) section:[25]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
The First Day of WinterIl primo giorno d’invernoMirko LocatelliItaly
Goodbye SoloRamin BahraniUnited States
The Herb of the Ratdata-sort-value="Erva" A Erva do RatoJulio Bressane, Rosa DiasBrazil
I'm Gonna ExplodeVoy a explotarGerardo NaranjoMexico
JayFrancis Xavier PasionPhilippines
N/AUn lacPhilippe GrandrieuxFrance
MelancholiaLav DiazPhilippines
Pa-ra-daMarco PontecorvoItaly, France, Romania
ParcArnaud des PallièresFrance
Perfect LifeWanmei ShenhuoEmily TangChina, Hong Kong
TediumKhastegiBahman MotamedianIran
Wild FieldDikoe PoleMikhail KalatozishviliRussia
Zero BridgeTariq TapaIndia, United States
Title Director(s) Production country
Below Sea LevelGianfranco RosiItaly, United States
L'Exil et le royaumeAndreο Schtakleff, Jonathan Le FournFrance
Los HerederosEugenio PolgovskyMexico
In ParaguayRoss McElweeUnited States
Puisque nous sommes nésJean-Pierre Duret, Andréa SantanaFrance, Brazil
WomenHuang WenhaiChina, Switzerland
Z32Avi MograbiIsrael, France
Horizons Events (documentaries)
Title Director(s) Production country
Antonioni su AntonioniCarlo Di CarloItaly
La fabbrica dei tedeschiMimmo CaloprestiItaly
Soltanto un nome nei titoli di testaDaniele Di BiasioItaly
ThyssenKrupp BluesPietro Balla & Monica RepettoItaly
Valentino: The Last EmperorMatt TyrnauerUnited States
Venezia '68Antonello Sarno, Steve Della CasaItaly
Verso EstLaura AngiulliItaly, Bosnia
Highlighted titles indicate the Horizons Awards for Best Film and Best Documentary respectively.

These Phantoms: Italian Cinema Rediscovered (1946-1975)

Retrospective screenings and restorations. Special monographic sessions dedicated to the "secret story of Italian cinema". This is the fifth part of the retrospective, initiated at the 61st edition of the festival.

English title Original title Director(s) Release Year
AgostinoMauro Bolognini1962
ArcanaGiulio Questi1972
The Basilisks (aka title)I basilischiLina Wertmüller1963
N/ALa bella di LodiMario Missiroli1963
City of PainLa città dolenteMario Bonnard1949
The City Stands TrialProcesso alla cittàLuigi Zampa1952
Difficult YearsAnni difficiliLuigi Zampa1948
The Doll That Took the TownLa donna del giornoFrancesco Maselli1956
The Earth Cries OutIl grido della terraDuilio Coletti1949
Fire!Fuoco!Gian Vittorio Baldi1968
FlashbackRaffaele Andreassi1969
A Girl... and a MillionLa cuccagnaLuciano Salce1962
N/ALeoni al soleVittorio Caprioli1961
Letter at DawnUna lettera all’albaGiorgio Bianchi1948
A New World (aka title)Un monde nouveauVittorio De Sica1964
Oh, Grandmother's DeadToh è Morta la NonnaMario Monicelli1969
Opiate '67 (aka title)I Mostri (with two unreleased segments)Dino Risi1963
Our Lady of the TurksNostra Signora dei TurchiCarmelo Bene1968
Paris, My Love (aka title)Parigi o caraVittorio Caprioli1962
Pelle VivaGiuseppe Fina1964
Revenge (aka title)Un uomo ritornaMax Neufeld1946
The Sky Is RedIl cielo è rossoClaudio Gora1950
SmogFranco Rossi1963
Violent LifeUna vita violentaPaolo Heusch & Brunello Rondi1962
The White Sheik (with some unreleased scenes)Lo Sceicco BiancoFederico Fellini1952
Documentaries and shorts
Title Director(s) Release Year
E il Casanova di Fellini?Gianfranco Angelucci and Liliana Betti1975
Italia proibitaEnzo Biagi1963
La Forza e la Ragione (interview to Salvador Allende)Roberto Rossellini1971
I misteri di Roma (Mysteries of Rome)(collective film)1963
Provini per "Il padre selvaggio" (a series of auditions for a film never realized)[26]Pier Paolo Pasolini1962
Spot Banca di Roma (commercial short)Federico Fellini~

Autonomous sections

Venice International Film Critics' Week

The following films were selected for the 23rd International Film Critics' Week:[27]

In competition
English title Original title Director(s) Production country
The ApprenticeL'apprentiSamuel CollardeyFrance
CucumberHuanggua / Qing guaZhou Yaowu[28]China
Kabuli KidBarmak AkramFrance, Afghanistan
Mid-August LunchPranzo di ferragostoGianni Di GregorioItaly
NightguardsČuvari noćiNamik Kabil[29]Bosnia
Sell Out!Yeo Joonhan[30]Malaysia
Two LinesIki Çizgi' Selim Evci[31]Turkey
Special Events - Out of competition
Line-up Title Director(s) Production country
Opening film''Cold Lunch (Lønsj)Eva SørhaugNorway
Opening filmPinuccio Lovero - Sogno di una morte di mezza estatePippo Mezzapesa[32]Italy
Highlighted title indicates the Lion Of The Future winner.

Venice Days

The following films were selected for the 5th edition of Venice Days (Giornate Degli Autori) autonomous section:[33][34]

In competition
English title Original title Director(s) Production country
One Day in a LifeUn altro pianetaStefano TummoliniItaly
Broken LinesSallie AprahamianUnited Kingdom
MachanUberto PasoliniSri Lanka, Italy, Germany
The Visitor MuukalainenJukka-Pekka ValkeapääFinland
Nowhere Man(N)iemandPatrice ToyeBelgium
HookedPescuit sportivAdrian SitaruRomania
Landscape No. 2Pokrajina št. 2Vinko MöderndorferSlovenia
ScratchRysaMichał RosaPoland
A Week AloneUna semana solosCelina MurgaArgentina
StellaSylvie VerheydeFrance
The Country TeacherVenkovský učitelBohdan SlámaCzech Republic
Portraits (documentaries)
Title Director(s) Country
Che saccioCamille d'ArcimolesItaly
Il passato è il mio bastoneFlavia Mastrella & Antonio RezzaItaly
Villa degli Autori – Open Space
Title Director(s) Country
Adius Piero Ciampi e altre storieEzio AlovisiItaly
Emilia Galotti: dal Settecento ad oggiAlessandro BerdiniItaly
Lo stato d’eccezioneGermano MaccioniItaly
Un paese diversoSilvio Soldini & Giorgio GariniItaly


Official selection

The following Official Awards were conferred at the 65th edition:

In Competition (Venezia 65)[35]

Special Awards

Horizons awards (Premi Orizzonti)[36]

Special mention: Un Lac by Philippe Grandrieux & Wo men (We) by Huang Wenhai

Short Film awards (Corto Cortissimo Lion)[37]

  • Lion for Best Short: Tierra y Pan by Carlos Armella
Special mention: Vacsora by Karchi Perlmann
  • U.I.P. Award for Best European Short: De onbaatzuchtigen by Koen Dejaegher

Autonomous sections

The following official and collateral awards were conferred to films of the autonomous sections:

Venice International Film Critics' Week

  • Best Film: The Apprentice (L'apprenti) by Samuel Collardey
  • Lion Of The Future
"Luigi de Laurentiis" Award For A Debut Film: Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di ferragosto) by Gianni Di Gregorio
  • Francesco Pasinetti Award for Best Film: Mid-August Lunch by Gianni Di Gregorio
  • Isvema Award for a debut or second feature film: Mid-August Lunch by Gianni Di Gregorio
  • Doc/it Award – Special mention: The Apprentice by Samuel Collardey
  • Arca Cinemagiovani Award for Best Italian Film: Mid-August Lunch by Gianni Di Gregorio
  • "Altre Visioni" Award: Sell Out! by Yeo Joon Han
  • EIUC Human Rights Film Award: Kabuli Kid by Akram Barmak

Venice Days (Giornate Degli Autori)

  • Label Europa Cinemas Award: Machan by Uberto Pasolini
  • Christopher D. Smithers Foundation Special Awards: Stella by Sylvie Verheyde
  • Queer Lion Award: One Day in a Life (Un altro pianeta) by Stefano Tummolini
  • FEDIC Award: Machan by Uberto Pasolini
  • Lina Mangiacapre Award: Stella by Sylvie Verheyde

Other collateral awards

The following collateral awards were conferred to films of the official selection:[38]

  • FIPRESCI Award[39]
    • Best Film (Main competition): Gabbla (Inland) by Tariq Teguia
    • Best Film (Out of competition): Goodbye Solo by Ramin Bahrani
  • SIGNIS Award: The Hurt Locker by Kathryn Bigelow
Special mention: Vegas: Based on a True Story by Amir Naderi & Teza by Haile Gerima
Special mention: Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo (Out of competition)
  • Doc/it Award – Sicilia Film Commission: Below Sea Level by Gianfranco Rosi
  • Leoncino d'oro Agiscuola Award: Giovanna's Father by Pupi Avati
  • UNICEF Award: Teza by Haile Gerima
  • Art Cinema Award: Dikoe Pole (Wild Field) by Mikhail Kalatozishvili (Out of competition)
  • La Navicella – Venezia Cinema Award: The Hurt Locker by Kathryn Bigelow
  • C.I.C.T. UNESCO Enrico Fulchignoni Award: BirdWatchers (La terra degli uomini rossi) by Marco Bechis
  • Biografilm Lancia Award:
    • Best fiction film: Rachel Getting Married by Jonathan Demme
    • Best documentary: Below Sea Level by Gianfranco Rosi (Horizons)
  • Nazareno Taddei Award: Giovanna's Father by Pupi Avati
  • Don Gnocchi Award: Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo (Out of competition)
Special mention: Ezio Greggio for Giovanna's Father
Special mention: Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) by Hayao Miyazaki
  • Brian Award: Khastegi by Bahman Motamedian (Horizons)
  • Lanterna Magica Award (Cgs): Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo (Out of competition)
  • CinemAvvenire, Best Film in Competition: Vegas: Based on a True Story by Amir Naderi
  • "The circle is not round. Cinema for peace and the richness of diversity" Award: Teza by Haile Gerima
  • Bastone Bianco Award (Filmcritica): Achilles and the Tortoise (Akires to kame) by Takeshi Kitano
  • Human Rights Film Network Award: The Hurt Locker by Kahryn Bigelow
  • Arca Cinemagiovani Award for Best Film Venezia 65: The Hurt Locker by Kathryn Bigelow
  • Air For Film Fest Award: Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo
  • "Poveri ma belli" Award: Puccini e la fanciulla by Paolo Benvenuti (Out of competition)
  • Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award for a film which shows a firm connection with the arts: Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) by Hayao Miyazaki
  • Open Award 2008: The Butcher's Shop by Philip Haas


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  28. Yao-wu Zhou on IMDb
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