ROME — The four Oscars scored by “Birdman” are sparking controversy in Italy where several media outlets are lamenting that Alejandro G. Inarritu’s pic went empty-handed after igniting the Venice Film Festival last year on its opening night.
The Venice jury, headed by French composer Alexandre Desplat — who himself on Sunday won the Oscar for original score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” — indeed snubbed “Birdman,” choosing instead to give the Lido’s Golden Lion to another “bird” movie, Swedish director Roy Andersson’s absurdist drama “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence.”
“‘Birdman’ and its missed Venice opportunity,” titled Turin daily La Stampa on Tuesday.
“We are left with a bitter taste in our mouth for that film, about which we could have said that it won the Golden Lion before the Oscars,” the paper noted.
“Zero prizes for ‘Birdman’ in Venice — someone please warn the otherworldly juries in Cannes and the Lido — who went gaga for the three-hour Turkish movie, or for the Swedish pigeon, that Hollywood movies aren’t s—,” blasted the revered Italo pop-culture website Dagospia.
Dagospia also took issue with Cannes, where last year’s jury, presided over by Jane Campion, gave the Palme d’Or to Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Winter Sleep.”
While Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera is keeping mum, the Lido on Monday issued a proud statement by Paolo Baratta, who presides over the Venice Biennale, which oversees the fest. Baratta underscored that both “Birdman” last year and “Gravity,” in 2013, launched globally as the Venice Film Festival’s opening movies. “Birdman” did so in competition, while “Gravity” was an out-of-competition entry.
“If the finest and most dynamic film industry in the world entrusts the world premiere of films aspiring to the Oscars to the Venice Film Festival, this seems to me an important sign of the international prestige that our festival enjoys today,” boasted Baratta. And not without reason. Venice does seem to have a magic touch when it comes to Oscar, including its bold choice of last year’s jury prexy.
Certainly, when it comes to the arguably unjust Venice verdict on “Birdman,” the non-Hollywood choice made by Desplat and his jury didn’t jinx the pic’s Oscar prospects.