Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexican drama Roma won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.
The decision of the nine-member festival jury to give the top honour to Roma was unanimous.
The black-and-white film tells the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the 1970s.
Roma is very personal for the director of the Oscar-winning Gravity as it is linked to memories of his childhood spent there. The film focuses on two domestic workers who take care of a family in Roma.
While receiving the Golden Lion, Cuaron thanked actresses Marina De Tavira, Yalitza Aparicio and Nancy Garcia for portraying the women who raised him. He said the day is special as it is the birthday of the woman upon whom Roma is based.
The film marks Cuaron’s return to Spanish-language filmmaking. It is the first movie from Netflix to take such a top honour at a major festival. Six of Netflix films were featured in Venice this year.
Britain’s Olivia Colman won the prize for Best Actress for her performance as England’s Queen Anne in The Favourite directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. In the love triangle, the dysfunctional monarch occasionally leaves her bed to go around her palace by wheelchair.
The Favourite. also won the runner-up Grand Jury Prize.
Best Actor prize went to Willem Dafoe for his role in the Vincent Van Gogh biopic At Eternity’s Gate.
Australia’s Jennifer Kent, the lone woman director among 21 competing for the Golden Lion, won the Special Jury Prize for the revenge thriller The Nightingale. Its male lead, Baykali Ganambarr, won an award for best up-and-coming actor.
The Nightingale is set in 19th century Tasmania. It tells the story of a 21-year-old Irish convict woman and an Aboriginal tracker, played by Ganambarr, pursuing the British army officer who wronged her family.
After receiving the award, Kent said all women who want to make films should come forward and do it.
Westerns too won prizes at the festival. France’s Jacques Audiard won the Silver Lion for the best director for his western dark comedy The Sisters Brothers. It focuses on events that unfold after an Oregon criminal ‘Commodore’ sends his brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters to find and kill a chemist and retrieve his moneymaking formula.
The brothers Joel and Ethan Coen from the US won the prize for best screenplay for their western The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
The Venice Film Festival is the world’s oldest such event and it was established in 1932.