Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’ wins Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival

Guillermo del Toro won the Venice Film Festival’s top Golden Lion prize on Saturday for his monster thriller “The Shape of Water{}”

The Mexican director said he expected that his success would inspire young directors to “have faith in anything you have religion in.”

“In my case, it’s monsters,” said the 52-year-old director, whose films include “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

The victory gives “The Shape of Water” a boost heading into Hollywood’s awards season.

The movie is about a mute young girl, played by Sally Hawkins, who falls for a mysterious sea monster being held in a high-security lab. Many audiences in Venice dropped for the film’s audacious mixture of genres: it is a monster movie, a Cold War thriller and even, sometimes, a musical.

A thankful del Toro told an audience at the festival’s closing ceremony: “I believe in life. I believe in love and I think in cinema.”

The world’s oldest film festival wrapped up Saturday after 11 days that attracted stars such as George Clooney, Matt Damon and Jennifer Lawrence into the canal-crossed Italian town.

A jury headed by American actress Annette Bening chose del Toro’s film from one of 21 competing in the 74th annual festival — an edition in which the planet’s social divisions and the spectre of climate change resonated through lots of the entries.

“The Shape of Water” beat contenders such as Clooney’s “Suburbicon” and Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing.”

The runner-up Grand Jury Prize went to Israeli director Samuel Maoz’s “Foxtrot,” a compelling and surprising study of despair.

France’s Xavier Legrand was named best director for his first full-length movie “Custody,” which also won the festival’s first-feature prize.

Palestinian stage veteran Kamel El Basha was named best actor for Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri’s play “The Insult.” Britain’s Charlotte Rampling took the best actress prize for Andrea Pallaoro’s movie “Hannah.”

Other winners included Warwick Thornton’s Australian Western “Sweet Country,” which won a Special Jury Prize, and Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which took the trophy for the best screenplay.

U.S. celebrity Charlie Plummer, 18, was named best young performer for portraying a lonely boy who befriends a weary old racehorse at Andrew Haigh’s “Lean on Pete.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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