Todd Phillips’ dark comic book film Joker won the Golden Lion Award at the 76th Venice International Film Festival on Saturday and cemented its place as a legitimate contender for the rest of the awards season.
The comic book movie starring Joaquin Phoenix portrays the transition of an artist into an iconic villain.
The world’s oldest film festival also awarded Swedish director Roy Anderson with the Silver Lion for “About Endlessness”, a human drama.
Phoenix did not win the best actor prize — it went to Italian actor Luca Marinelli for the Jack London adaptation Martin Eden — but the director of Joker dedicated much of his speech to the talents of his leading man.
Polish director Roman Polanski earned the Grand Jury Prize for “An officer and a spy”. He drew the ire of critics for winning the award while being convicted by a U.S. court for child sexual abuse.
A protest took place on the sidelines of the event with about 400 environmentalists holding banners saying “No to big ships in Venice”.