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  • Writer's pictureKris Meester

Award Winners of Venice Film Week 2023 Announced!

28 August 2023 - The Venice Film Week team would like to thank all of their guests for coming out to enjoy a week of new independent cinema from around the globe at the 8th edition of the festival, which included a special open air screening at Campo San Polo.

This year, the festival was privileged to receive almost two thousand entries. 56 wonderful films made it to the final selection for 2023. The Venice Film Week is pleased to announce to you today the following films as its award winners for 2023, as chosen by this year's jury members:

Best Narrative Feature Film:

Coyote (Canada) by Katherine Jerkovic

Coyote is a pensive, introspective look at one man’s search for a new beginning. It’s a domestic story of Camilo, a middle-aged widower torn between his career and what’s left of his family. It’s a coming-of-age tale, of sorts, which shines a light on a man who’s already lived, loved, and lost. His inner turmoil is conveyed in a way that’s deftly understated: an apt demonstration of showing the audience, rather than telling them. Only fleeting moments of frustration peek through the emotional wall he has built, a powerful façade that hides his struggle. Likewise, the characters’ backgrounds are explored in a way that’s markedly genuine. We get inclinations of their past through naturalistic dialogue, rather than overt exposition. The film utilizes wide, stationary shots, positioning its characters as small figures amidst the larger world around them. Moreover, long periods of silence accentuate the dialogue, making it all the more impactful. Even in its conclusion, Coyote preserves its restraint. Rather than true finality, the audience is left, like Camilo, in a state of acceptance; he’s made the right decision, but it’s not without its concessions.

Best Documentary Feature Film:

Chaylla (France) by Clara Teper, Paul Pirritano

An intimate documentary, Chaylla documents a young mother’s struggle to escape an abusive relationship. The camera focuses tightly on its subject, allowing for an unrivaled degree of intimacy and familiarity between the characters and the audience. The film does an excellent job conveying the passage of time, powerfully conveying the cyclical pattern of abuse. Structurally, it centers largely around Chaylla’s regular meetings with her lawyer. Here, we are given inclinations into her past, as well as the progression of her custody case. Rather than see the acts of violence, we sit with Chaylla as the lawyer rattles them off, the camera focusing on her face. Between this, and the scenes of domestic life with her children, we are afforded a unique look at not just abuse, but its lasting effects on those involved. Finally, the film promotes an uplifting message of shared experience, particularly amongst women. The relationship between Chaylla and her friends and family are deftly portrayed. Thus, when the verdict comes down, we are left with the comfort that, though the traditional family unit cannot survive, Chaylla won’t be left alone.

Best Narrative Short Film:

The Factory (Iran) by Masoud Saadat

The Factory follows Afrooz, an Iranian lawyer responsible for the impending closure of a factory. After her daughter goes missing, she believes the factory workers must be responsible. Afrooz is out of place amongst the grime-covered laborers, who converse with one another in a local dialect she can’t understand. Thus, parallels can be drawn between the narrative unfolding onscreen and class divides in Iranian society. To this effect, also prevalent is the evolving role of women in Iranian culture and the cultural pushback therein. The film does an excellent job of playing with audience expectations, creating an unwavering sense of uncertainty and anxiety, one that reaches a powerful crescendo in the film’s final moments.

Best Documentary Short Film:

Alpha Kings (USA) by Enrique Pedraza Botero, Faye Tsakas

Alpha Kings is an eye-opening, off-putting look at the power of the internet. Making exorbitant amounts of money from online subscribers whom they verbally berate, a group of college-age men live in the lap of luxury. The film cleverly juxtaposes them with their surroundings: a conservative leaning Texas suburb. The viewer is forced to question whether what they’re doing is wrong, yet never told explicitly what to think. The film is a look into a distinctly 21st-century phenomenon, the future of which no one can know for sure.

Best Animated Film:

Generation (UK) by Riccardo Fusetti

Through mesmerizing bursts of light, color, and imagery, we witness an exploration of the human condition from the perspective of artificial intelligence. The film depicts a human form mutating in and out of corporeality, transforming from the familiar image of a woman to the basic elements of digital imagery. It’s a fascinating illustration of A.I.’s ability to artificially manufacture what was once uniquely human.

Best Experimental Film:

Kiss/Crash (UK) by Adam Cole

The film acts as sensory overload, an explosion of imagery. It deftly juxtaposes two seemingly incongruent images: a kiss and a car crash. Escalating by the second, the film manages to liken pleasure with destruction: human emotion with artificial vigor.

Best Music Video:

Secant (USA) by Timothy David Orme

An acute demonstration of how beautiful imagery can go beyond simply accompanying a song. Instead, it illustrates the potential for audio and visuals to engage in a back-and-forth relationship, elevating both elements far beyond the sum of their parts.

Best Italian Cinema Now:

What If Women Ruled The World? (Italy) by Giulia Magno

The film is an inspired look at the global, cross-cultural potential of activism. It depicts the combined efforts of two feminists from hugely different backgrounds: Nadya Tolokonnikova and Judy Chicago. Their collaboration consists of a proposal for a better world, one where women’s voice is heard. It juxtaposes the refrain ‘What If Women Ruled the World’ with answers to the question, deftly outlining their vision. It not only conveys their message in a powerful, convincing way, but also communicates a theme of unity and togetherness; true change can only be achieved if we work together.

Congratulations to all!

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