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Venice 2011: 'Faust,' Michael Fassbender Win Top Festival Prizes

Michael Fassbender - Venice Winner - correct - 2011
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Michael Fassbender

“People Mountain People Sea” director Cai Shangjun, “Terraferma” and “A Simple Life” actress Deanie Yip, among other winners.

ROME – Aleksander Sokurov’s adaptation of Goethe’s tragedy Faust was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival Saturday, with the special jury prize going to Italian favorite Terraferma from Emanule Crialese and Chinese director Cai Shangjun winning the best director honor for Ren Shan Ren Hai (People Mountain People Sea).
 
The prizes, were handed out during a gala award ceremony in Venice’s Sala Grande that closed the festival, with prizes handed out by Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, the president of the jury.

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Other awards including the Coppa Volpi prize for best actor, which went to Michael Fassbender for his portrayal of a man sinking into a sex addition in Steve McQueen’s Shame, and the Copa Volpi for best actress to Deanie Yip for her role in Tao jie (A Simple Life), directred by Ann Hui.
 
Faust, which Sokurov called “an exploration of the nature of power,” bested a strong lineup that included Shame, George Clooney’s political thriller Ides of March, Freud-Jung drama A Dangerous Method from David Cronenberg, Roman Polanski’s Carnage and William Friedkin’s Killer Joe.

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Faust
is also screening this week at the Toronto Film Festival, where it could now draw added attention.
 
It was the second jury prize for Crialese, who won the same honor in Venice five years ago with Nuovomondo (Golden Door). Terraferma tells the tale of a local Italian woman and a foreigner who have a deep impact on each other amid the arrival of African boat people on the island.

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Shangjun Cai’s Ren Shan Ren Hai, a murder drama, was the surprise film in the main competition this year.
 
Other prizes include the best screenplay honor to Yorgos Lanthimos and Eftimis Filippou for Alps, a quirky tale of a group of people who stand in for the deceased, while the cinematography prize went to Robbie Ryan for his work on the adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

The Horizons sidebar awarded its top prize to Kotoko from Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto, while the Horizon's jury prize was given to Michael Giawogger's drama Whore's Glory.
 
At first indication, this year’s prizes failed to spark the kind of controversy the festival suffered last year after jury president Quentin Tarantino was criticized for handing out most major prizes to people who knew personally, including the award of the Golden Lion to Somewhere from Sofia Coppola, his former girlfriend.
 
The 68-year-old festival got underway Aug. 31.