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Venice Film Festival Awards


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Mirren, Affleck Win Acting Awards

'Still Life' Surprises at Venice

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Ben Affleck won Best Actor for 'Hollywoodland'

VENICE, Italy -- As the 63rd Venice Film Festival came to a close, winners were announced from the twenty-two films in competition. The Chinese feature "Still Life" ("Sanxia Haoren") took the Golden Lion, the festival's top prize for Best Feature Film. Helen Mirren and Ben Affleck took the top acting awards.

"Still Life" ("Sanxia Haoren") was a surprise entry late in the festival. The Chinese movie is set against the backdrop of China's gigantic Three Gorges Dam project. Chinese Director Jia Zhang-Ke, whose previous efforts "The World" and "Platform" competed in past years, took the award for his sixth feature.

The film trumped candidates like Emilio Estevez' "Bobby," about the assassination of Robert Kennedy and "The Queen," about the week that followed Princess Diana's death. Other films in this year's competition included Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain" and Brian De Palma's "The Black Dahlia."

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Helen Mirren won Best Actress for 'The Queen'

Helen Mirren's much-buzzed turn as Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears' "The Queen" earned her the prize for Best Female Actor, while Peter Morgan took Best Screenplay for the film. Ben Affleck received a surprise nod for Best Male Actor for his role in Allen Coulter's "Hollywoodland."

Affleck won for his portrayal of real-life actor George Reeves. The film dramatizes an investigation into the death of Reeves, who starred as The Man of Steel in the 1950s TV show, "Adventures of Superman," before dying from an alleged apparent suicide.

The Silver Lion for Best Director went to French director Alain Resnais for his film, "Private Fears in Public Places." Resnais returned to the Venice Film Festival 45 years after his film "Last year at Marienbad" won the Golden Lion.

His new film is an adaptation of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn's play of the same name, and tells the overlapping stories of six people's search for identity, spun around alcohol, sex and religion.

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Chinese Director Jia Zhang-Ke won the Golden Lion

for his surprise entry, 'Still Life'

"Still Life" was shot in the old village of Fengjie, which has been destroyed by the building of the Three Gorges Dam, and tells of people who go back there. More than 1.13 million Chinese have been relocated to make way for the dam, many of them complaining of bleak prospects in their new homes above the waterline or in other parts of China.

"We were told there would be a surprise film at the end of this festival, and we didn't have a lot of discussion," French actress Catherine Deneuve told reporters after the ceremony. The awards jury was chaired by Deneuve and consisted of Jose Juan Bigas Luna, Cameron Crowe, Paulo Branco, Chulpan Khamatova, Park Chan-wook and Michele Placido.

"The beauty of the cinematography and the quality of the story, without getting political, the characters, we were very touched and we were very moved," Deneuve added. "We know it's a very special film."

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Spike Lee won the Horizons Documentary Prize for his

film, 'When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts'

Spike Lee won the Horizons Documentary Prize for "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," about the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The film debuted on HBO last week, a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

Emanuele Crialese earned the Silver Lion Revelation Award for his film, "Nuovomondo" The movie, translated to English as "The Golden Door," follows the voyage of a Sicilian family in the early 1990s from their homeland to America. This is an optional award that the jury does not have to hand out each year.

The festival's Special Jury Prize went to "Daratt," Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's movie about revenge in the civil war-scarred nation of Chad. It was the first African film to compete for the Venice Film Festival's top Golden Lion Award in 19 years.

Emmanuel Lubezki, the cinematographer on Alfonso Cuaron's "Children of Men," won the Osella Award for Best Technical Contribution for his photography. The Marcello Mastroianni Prize for an Best Young Actor went to Isild Le Besco for her role in "L'Intouchable."

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