Guatamalan director Jayro Bustamante’s genocide revenge drama “The Weeping Woman” (“La Llorona”), set during the 1960s civil war in his country, has won the Venice Days Director Award, the top nod in Venice’s independently run section.
This is the second feature by Bustamante, who put Guatemalan cinema the map with his debut, “Ixcanul.” The film takes its cue from the acquittal of a former Guatemalan general whose initial sentence is overturned on a procedural pretext. This unleashes a vengeful supernatural spirit upon his household.
Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz (“The Invisible Life”) presided over the jury formed by 28 young European movie buffs. They praised the film for being “an intimate ghost story told through a vivid female character.”
The award comes with a cash prize of €20,000 ($22,000), which is split equally between the director and the film’s international distributor, in this case Film Factory Entertainment.
“Arab Blues,” a comedy toplining Golshifteh Farahani as a Tunis-born psychoanalyst who after growing up in Paris returns to Tunisia to set up a practice, won the Venice Days audience award. This debut feature by French-Tunisian writer and director Manele Labidi will be released in Italy via BIM Distribuzione.
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In separate news, Polish director Jan Komasa’s “Corpus Christi” won the Europa Cinemas Label as Best European Film in Venice Days. The drama about a 20-year-old who goes through a spiritual transformation while incarcerated and then impersonates a priest in a small-town parish, becoming a charismatic preacher, is being sold internationally by New Europe Film Sales.
A jury made up of European exhibitors praised “Christi” as “an enticing mix of the tragic and the funny – sometimes violent, sometimes highly emotional.”