By Aymara Limma

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Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix, director and actor of the big winner, “Joker”, on the Red carpet.

One of the most prestigious alongside the festivals in Cannes and Berlin, and the oldest film festival in the world, the Venice International Film Festival in 2019 was on its 76th edition and it closes this year with controversy. But I am sure one thing we can all agree on, it was a special year of great film selection that brought a lot of emotions and surprises. Surprise for some and certainty for others, the big winner of theGolden Lion award, was Todd Phillips’ “Joker”, with an outstanding performance by Joaquin Phoenix.

“The movie is the filmmaker’s original vision of the infamous DC villain, an origin story infused with, but distinctly outside, the character’s more traditional mythologies. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. Longing for any light to shine on him, he tries his hand as a stand-up comic, but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty and, ultimately, betrayal, Arthur makes one bad decision after another that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty, allegorical character study.”

The Silver Lion – Grand Jury Prize went to the director Roman Polanki’s “An Officer and a Spy.” – (J’Accuse).

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Babenco, Tell me when I Die”

All the controversy about Polanki’s conviction in 1978 for statutory rape and other allegations of sexual assault, stopped him from attending the festival but not from winning the award. “His film is based on thehistory of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young promising officer, is degraded for spying for Germany and is sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, who is promoted to run the military counter-intelligence unit that tracked him down. But when Picquart discovers that secrets are still being handed over to the Germans, he is drawn into a dangerous
labyrinth of deceit and corruption that threatens not just his honor but his life.

The selection of films – in competition and out of competition, was spectacular and long but we can’t forget to name at least three:

* “The Laundromat” directed by Academy Award-winner Steven Soderbergh, has in the main cast: Meryl Streep, Gary Goldman and Antonio Bandeiras.

* “Ad Astra” directed by James Gray with Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, and a great cast.

* “Wasp Network” directed by Olivier Assayas and with the participation of Brazilian Wagner Moura in the cast together with Penélope Cruz, Édgar Ramírez, Gael García Bernal, Ana de Armas, Leonardo Sbaraglia and Julian Flynn.

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Aymara Limma and director Ricardo Laganaro, winner of the award for best Virtual Reality movie.

Even with so many great films being released, 2019 seems to be the year to celebrate the Brazilian cinema abroad, after the director Karim Ainouz won the Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival for his film “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmão”, and at the 76th Venice Film Festival, two Brazilians directors, Barbara Paz and Ricardo Laganaro, won awards.

A atriz Bárbara Paz won the Venice Classics Award for Best Documentary on cinema for her directorial debut “Babenco, Tell me when I die” (Babenco, Alguém tem que ouvir o coração e dizer: parou). A film about  the director Hector Babenco.

“I have already lived my death and now all that is left is to make a film about it.” So said the filmmaker Hector Babenco to Bárbara Paz when he realized he did not have much time left. She accepted the challenge to fulfill the last wish of her late partner: to be the main protagonist in his own death. Babenco made of cinema    his medicine, and the nourishment that kept him alive. “Babenco – Tell me when I Die” is a film about filming so never to die.

Ricardo Laganaro won the award for Best VR Immersive Experience for Interactive Content for his film “The Line” (A Linha). The Line is an embodied VR narrative experience about love and the fear of change. A beautiful love story narrated by Rodrigo Santoro. We can barely wait for next year but for now, you can check the great selection of the films at the official site to the festival here


*Aymara Limma started her acting career with the miniseries “Capitães da Areia” for a Brazilian TV Network. Early in her career, she was cast in Warner Brother’s “City of Angels”, stared as Becky Thatcher in the award-winning play “The adventures of Tom Sawyer”, and was the host of “Hollywood Express”. She is a regular Soul Brasil magazine contributor.

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