‘The Woman Who Left’ Wins Venice Film Festival: Complete List of Winners

VENICE, Italy — “The Woman Who Left,” a revenge drama by Filipino auteur Lav Diaz about the struggle of a wrongly convicted schoolteacher in the outside world after 30 years behind bars, is the winner of the 73rd Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion.

Shot in black and white and lasting nearly four hours “Woman Who Left” was praised by Variety critic Guy Lodge as a “powerful and, by his [Diaz’s] standards, refreshingly contained moral study.”

“This is for my country, for the Filipino people; for our struggle and the struggle of humanity,” said Diaz, as he thanked the jury headed by Sam Mendes.

Tom Ford-directed romantic noir “Nocturnal Animals,” set in the L.A. art scene and the Texas criminal underworld, took the fest’s Jury Grand Prize. It is the second film directed by the fashion designer, following “A Single Man” which premiered in Venice in 2009.

“I have a very beautiful memory of the warm reception my first film received here seven years ago,” the former Gucci guru said speaking in Italian. “To return here is for me the realisation of a big dream.”

Best director donors were split between Mexican helmer Amat Escalante’s eclectic mix of naturalistic drama and sci-fi erotica, “The Untamed,” and Veteran Russian auteur Andrei Konchalovsky’s Holocaust drama “Paradise.”

Popular on Variety

The Special Jury Prize went to “The Bad Batch,” a dystopian fairy tale set in a Texas wasteland by Iranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour. Lodge called it a “blood-spattered mash-up of genres, from cannibal exploitation to spaghetti western.”

Amirpour thanked festival organisers for “bringing me and my weird, twisted fairy tale to Venice; it’s been a dream.” “I wish my mom and dad were here because they would really love this s—t,” she added.

Emma Stone scooped the best actress prize for her role as Mia, an aspiring actress and playwright with a passion for the magic of old movie stars,” in Damien Chazelle’s musical “La La Land,” itself a tribute to old Hollywood, which opened the festival on a decidedly positive note. Stone was not present at the awards ceremony.

The best actor prize went to Argentinian actor Oscar Martinez for his role as a Nobel-winning author who returns to his native village for inspiration in directorial duo Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn’s “The Distinguished Citizen (“El ciudadano ilustre”), a comedy about art, fame, and petty provincial jealousy.

Noah Oppenheim won the best screenplay nod for “Jackie,” directed by Chilean director Pablo Larrain. Starring Natalie Portman as  First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, it reconstructs the four-day period right after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

“One of the things I like most about the Venice Film Festival, and all festivals — and something I didn’t really understand from the outside — is that we can only give one award per movie,” Mendes said on stage.

“Of course we’re here to encourage people to come to the cinema and come to see original films,” Mendes later noted at the post ceremony press conference.

“But we did not talk about this in our discussions. We talked about all movies in the same way,” he added.

The Marcello Mastroianni award for best young performer went to German actress Paula Beer for her role as a World War I widow in French director Francois Ozon’s  period drama “Frantz.” It was the first time she performed in French.

Tunisian director Ala Eddine Slim won the Luigi De Laurentiis Lion of the Future for best first work for drama “The Last of Us,” which screened in Critics’ Week and has no dialogue. It tracks a Sub-Saharan man through the desert to North Africa where he steals a boat and embarks on an imaginary surrealistic odyssey.

The jury of the Horizons section dedicated to more cutting edge works awarded its top prize to “Liberami,” a documentary about exorcism in Sicily by Italy’s Federica di Giacomo.

The Horizons Special Jury Prize went to Turkish director Reha Erdem for his dark drama “Big Big World.”

The 73rd edition of Venice was one of the strongest in recent memory combining a diverse mix of potential Oscar contenders from the U.S. with classic auteur and more esoteric fare from other parts of the world, and attaining a good batting average with relatively few letdowns. It reinforced the Lido’s status as a prime Oscar launching pad and an important sales springboard to closing deals in Toronto.




“The Woman Who Left,” Lav Diaz, Philippines


“Paradise,” Andre Konchalovsky, Russia, Germany

“The Untamed,” Amat Escalante, Mexico

“Nocturnal Animals,” Tom Ford, U.S.

“The Bad Batch,” Ana Lily Amirpour, U.S.


Oscar Martinez (“The Distinguished Citizen,” Argentina, Spain)

Emma Stone (“La La Land,” U.S.)


Paula Beer (“Frantz,” France)

Noah Oppenheim  (“Jackie,” U.S.)

“The Last of Us,” Ala Eddine Slim, Tunisia


“Liberami,” Federica di Giacomo, Italy


“Home,” Fien Troch, Belgium

“Big Big World,” Reha Erdam, Turkey


Nuno Lopes (“Sao Jorge,” Portugal)


Ruth Diaz (“The Fury of a Patient Man,” Spain)


Wang Bing (“Bitter Money,” China)


“La Voz Perdida,” Marcelo Mantinessi, Paraguay


Best Documentary on Cinema

“Le Councours,” Claire Simon, France

Best Restored Film

“Break-Up — L’uomo dei cinque palloni,” Marco Ferreri, Italy

More Film

  • Jakob Mejlhede Andersen

    NENT Studios U.K. CEO Jakob Mejlhede Andersen Steps Down

    Jakob Mejlhede Andersen, the CEO of NENT Studios U.K., is stepping down from the business, which operates the Nordic region’s leading streamer Viaplay. Mejlhede was appointed CEO of NENT Studios U.K. in October 2019 and was previously executive VP and CCO for NENT Group’s Viaplay. He also held the role of executive VP and group [...]

  • A still from The Earth Is

    'The Earth is Blue as an Orange': Film Review

    “Everybody smile and say ‘cinema,'” young Myroslava Trofymchuk instructs several Ukrainian soldiers, as they obligingly pose and perform for her camera, their brawny tank reduced to a prop in the rubbly, wintry background. It’s the only time we see the masculine agents of conflict in “The Earth is Blue as an Orange,” a documentary with [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Cannes to Celebrate Wong Kar-wai's 'In The Mood For Love'

    The Cannes Film Festival is to screen a restored version of Wong Kar-wai’s “In The Mood For Love,”  20 years after it first premiered on the Croisette. The festival will play a restored, 4K version of the timeless Hong Kong-set romance that starred Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung as a journalist and a secretary [...]

  • Elvis Presley 1968 Comeback Special

    'Elvis: That's the Way It Is' Documentary Set for Re-Release (EXCLUSIVE)

    Trafalgar Releasing has set a re-release for the concert documentary “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is” for April 22 in 14 countries, Variety has learned exclusively. The event will mark the 50th anniversary of the film’s original release by MGM. Most of the remastered footage was shot at the International Hotel in Las Vegas with [...]

  • Blackhall Studios to Build Major Production

    Blackhall Studios to Build Major Production Facility in U.K.

    Blackhall Studios, the Atlanta-based production hub that has hosted several high-profile shoots in recent years, has signed an agreement with the University of Reading to develop its first U.K. facility. Due for completion in early 2022, the new studio will offer physical production stages alongside digital media facilities tailored for special effects, augmented reality and [...]

  • Alberto Martin, Alegre Cordelia, Alvaro Gago,

    'Bees,' ‘Happiness,' 'Quinquis' Selected by Madrid’s ECAM Incubator (EXCLUSIVE)

    BARCELONA – “20,000 Species of Bees,” “Something Like Happiness” and “Los quinquis” are among five feature projects that will be put through development at the ECAM Madrid Film School’s pioneering Incubator program. The Incubator forms part of The Screen, a program at the ECAM Madrid Film School, which is aimed at fostering links between on-the-rise Spain-based [...]

  • Onward Animated Film 2020

    ‘Onward’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Disney Pixar claims the top spot in spending with “Onward.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $4.99 million through Sunday for 784 national ad airings on 35 networks. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content