With the Golden Lion, the Mostra shines the spotlight on the opiate crisis

The Venice Film Festival shone the spotlight on the tragedy of opiates by crowning a documentary on photographer Nan Goldin and her relentless fight against this health scandal which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States.

The jury chaired by actress Julianne Moore awarded its Golden Lion to the director, Laura Poitras, 58, and thus crowns a third director in a row, after the French Audrey Diwan last year (“L’Evènement “) and Chinese-American Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) in 2020.

Above all, he distinguishes a pugnacious personality who relentlessly probes the gray areas of America: after having worked on the American occupation in Iraq then Guantanamo, she became the confidante of the whistleblower Edward Snowden and produced “Citizenfour” ( 2015), which won the Oscar for Best Documentary.

No shattering revelations this time in “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”, the award-winning film at Venice, but a journey through the life of Nan Goldin, a 68-year-old photographer known for her shots of the New York underground and who rubbed shoulders with death, from AIDS to the opiate crisis, his last fight.

Because Nan Goldin, who had returned from Venice and could not pick up her prize, took the lead in a David against Goliath fight against the Sackler family, main producers of opiates, painkillers who made people addicted and killed half a million Americans over the past two decades.

“I’ve known a lot of brave people in my life, but no one like (Nan Goldin) who fought this very powerful family,” the director said as she accepted her award.

The Venice jury sent another political signal by awarding a Special Prize to director Jafar Panahi, showing that cinema would not bow to censorship in Iran and offering its support to a filmmaker who pays with his freedom for his desire to create.

Golden Lion in 2000 with “Le Cercle”, Panahi is the only filmmaker in competition not to have been able to walk the red carpet, imprisoned since July by the mullahs’ regime. In “No Bears” (“The Bears do not exist”), the award-winning film, he puts his own situation in abyss, a brilliant snub to censorship.

Slap for Netflix

But the Venetian ceremony, which acts as a launching pad for the Oscars, after the “success stories” of films like “Nomadland” by Chloé Zhao, Lion d’Or in 2020 or “Roma” by Alfonso Cuaron, two years earlier , has not forgotten the glamour.

The acting awards went to red carpet stars Cate Blanchett (“Tár”) and Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”).

On the other hand, the prize list sounds like a slap in the face for the online video giant Netflix, in search of cinephile legitimacy in Venice. Deprived of Cannes competition because his films are not released in theaters, he has his napkin ring on the Lido where he presented no less than four films.

Alas, neither the performance of Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in the biopic “Blonde”, online at the end of September, nor the excess of the Frenchman Romain Gavras in his description of the insurrection of a suburb (“Athena”) convinced the jury. No more than the Mexican Alejandro González Iñárritu, who lost the spectators in the meanders of his “Bardo”, or the American Noah Baumbach, who did not find the charm of his previous films with “White Noise”. (AFP)

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