Italian director Gianfranco Rosi scooped the hotly contested Golden Lion prize for best film at this year’s 70th Venice Film Festival on Saturday. It’s the world’s oldest film festival.
Rosi’s quirky documentary forms part of a resurgence for the genre, normally seen as less entertaining than films. The documentary reveals a portrait of a dozen characters, including a weevil-fighting tree scientist, but their names, personalities and occupations only gradually unfold.
These people live along the main ring road around Rome. The “Sacro GRA” is a pun on the roads name and also evokes the Italian for ‘Holy Grail’. Rosi’s offbeat camera work brings the piece to life, defying convention and often behaving like a CCTV camera as it peers into the living quarters and workplaces of the characters.
The Silver Lion award for best director was nabbed by Alexandros Avranas, for “Miss Violence”, a film about a father who prostitutes his own children for money.
Greek actor Themis Panou, who plays the abusive father, also won best actor for the film.