LONDON: American director Paul Thomas Anderson took home the runner-up Silver Lion Prix of the Venice Film Festival for The Master amid a storm of controversy after The Hollywood Reporter published a story about plans to give the film the main prize.
THR claimed in its article that their sources inside the jury had told them that the jury of the festival headed by Michal Mann had wanted to award Anderson’s film the top Golden Prize but were prevented from doing so because of the festival’s regulations.
Instead the top prize went to Korean director Kim Ki-duk’s ultra violent Pieta. It is totally forbidden for the jury to leak such information and no statement for the festival has been made about the THR story but it was picked up by other media covering the event.
Anderson’s powerful drama said to be based on Scientology and L Ron Hubbard was set to sweep all top prizes at the festival with the jury having picked it for best film, best director and best actors according to the THR leak.
But festival regulations prevent the jury from giving more than two prizes of the top prizes to any one film so they were it is claimed asked to go back and choose another winner. The Master won the Silver Lion for best director and the prix for best actor was split between the two stars of the film Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix who both put in powerful performances.
The Master is Anderson’s first film in five years since his masterpiece There Will Be Blood and it aroused cult and critical acclaim at the Italian fest.
It was a strong year generally for American films in Venice with Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder and Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers also screening in competition.