Canadian actor Sarah Gadon told Variety Saturday she was “really happy” with the decisions of Venice’s main jury this year, on which she served alongside Bong Joon-ho, Saverio Costanzo, Virginie Efira, Cynthia Erivo, Alexander Nanau and last year’s Golden Lion winner Chloé Zhao.
The jury gave the Golden Lion to French director Audrey Diwan’s powerful abortion drama “Happening,” while Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama “The Hand of God” took the runner-up grand jury prize.
“I feel that our choices are very strong and we all arrived at a place where we were unanimous about them,” she said, admitting that the discussions about the presented films weren’t just restricted to four jury meetings. “We often spoke after the screenings. It just felt natural,” she said.
Gadon, who studied film theory and criticism at university, was vocal about her excitement over joining the jury, writing on her Instagram: “The film geek in me is doing somersaults. The actor in me is humbled. The cinephile in me that hasn’t seen a movie in a theater in two years is bursting with joy. Let’s hope I remember how to walk in high heels.”
The actor received acclaim for her role in the CBC miniseries “Alias Grace,” based on the Margaret Atwood novel, as well as her collaboration with David Cronenberg on “A Dangerous Method” (presented in competition in Venice in 2011), “Cosmopolis” (in competition in Cannes in 2012), and “Maps to the Stars” (in competition in Cannes in 2014). She also worked with Denis Villeneuve on his thriller “Enemy.”
“To be able to exercise that part of my brain was really exciting. When you are a film student, you dream that one day, you will be able to judge films and have really stimulating discussions. That’s what we have been doing for the whole festival, with people I deeply respect,” she said, calling her jury duty “an experience of a lifetime.”
“I have spent the past two years pretty much in isolation, so being here feels like this huge celebration. Now, more than ever, I appreciate being able to go and see the films with an audience.”
Due to a scheduling conflict the actor will be unable to attend the premiere of her latest film “All My Puny Sorrows,” however, now shown in Toronto. Canadian filmmaker Michael McGowan’s adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel about two sisters is also starring Alison Pill.
“The premiere is tonight [Saturday]. I am sad, because I really love the film. I wanted to tell this story because I love the book so much, but also because Alison Pill was going to be in it. Our lives have been intertwined since we were kids. She is such an incredible actor,” said Gadon.
A self-described introvert, she also opened up about the pressures of the red carpet and the decision to not work with a stylist this year.
“It’s not natural for me to be exhibiting myself in that way. It has been a journey, understanding it’s a part of the industry. Everything that I wore [in Venice], every brand I worked with, I chose. For me, that’s important, because I need to feel comfortable in what I am wearing. I enjoyed this part of the festival, precisely because I had so much control over my image,” she said.
“Everybody gets judged based on how they look and it’s something I came to expect. But I feel excited when people, once they get to know me and we sit down to have a conversation, leave with a very different perspective of who I am as a person.”
Gadon admitted that she felt “energized” and inspired by the films she saw in Venice, after having been “starved” of the performing arts during the pandemic.
“I am really excited about some new voices, people who are making their first or second films, but also about the masters showing their current work. It has been very helpful in terms of what I want to do as an artist,” she said.
“Something that I really love about festivals is getting to meet other filmmakers and actors, and talk about films. That’s the magical thing everyone has been missing out on. It’s not even about networking – it’s about being able to make friendships and establish connections.”