Sofia Coppola wins Golden Lion at Venice film fest

Sep 12, 2010
David Cairns

‘Somewhere’ nets daughter of Francis top award amid cronyism accusations

Shrugging off accusations of cronyism, Sofia Coppola last night paid tribute to her megastar director dad, Francis Ford Coppola, as she collected the Golden Lion award from her megastar director ex-boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino, chair of the judges at the Venice International Film Festival.

Coppola junior claimed the top honour at the world’s oldest film festival for Somewhere, in which a film star’s daughter helps him see how empty his dissolute lifestyle is. Saying she was “so proud”, she thanked Coppola senior “for teaching me”.

Eyebrows had been raised by the possibility that Tarantino might end up handing the gilt statuette to his ex, but he told the press he had not shown any favouritism.

“Being her friend didn’t affect me or make me sway the jury in any way,” said the Reservoir Dogs director. “She won it fair and square and unanimously.” So that’s alright then.

Tarantino continued: “[Somewhere] enchanted us from the first and it grew and grew in our hearts, in our analysis, in our minds and affections. We kept coming back to it in discussions, even when talking about other films, because we found it kept illustrating what we were looking for in the winner of our Golden Lion.”

However, the few reviews of Somewhere that have so far appeared are mixed. While the Telegraph’s David Gritten found it “stylish, perceptive and often amusing”, Time magazine’s Richard Corliss felt it had the “smell of freshman film school” and was “sometimes too obvious, often too opaque”.

Starring Stephen Dorff and 11-year-old newcomer Elle Fanning, the movie draws on Coppola’s own experiences growing up in the company of her father’s movie star friends. With varied reactions at its Venice screenings, it was something of a surprise win.

Second prize, the Silver Lion, went to Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia's The Last Circus, a black comedy where two clowns fight for the attentions of a beautiful trapeze artist in a political allegory of Spain under fascist dictator Franco.

Best Actor was former Calvin Klein model Vincent Gallo for his turn as an Afghan refugee in Essential Killing while Best Actress went to Ariane Labed for the Greek movie Attenberg about a young woman obsessed with our own Sir David Attenborough – and evidently confused about his surname.

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