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VENICE 2007 Awards

Kechiche, a disappointed winner


A winner of two awards on Saturday evening at the 64th Venice Film Festival with a Special Jury Prize for his The Secret of the Grain [+see also:
film review
interview: Hafsia Herzi
film profile
and the Marcello Mastroianni Prize for Best Newcomer (young actress Hafsia Herzi), director Abdellatif Kechiche did not, however, hide his disappointment at the closing ceremony and later stood out with his absence at the traditional prizewinners press conference.

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A big favourite among critics and Venice audiences this year (see article), the director, presented the Special Jury Prize by fellow French director and jury member Catherine Breillat, went so far as to describe the achievement as a “modest prize”. Breillat immediately pointed out to him that this honour was not that because "she had awarded it with great passion".

In fact, according to one of its members, Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek, The Secret of the Grain had divided the jury. Yesterday, Ozpetek revealed that the deliberation lasted nine hours in total and that three hours of discussion were needed for Kechiche’s work alone. "Although I very much liked Ang Lee’s film, I wanted the Golden Lion to go to Kechiche," said Ozpetek. "But in the jury there were two of us in his favour against five. Yet, choosing The Secret of the Grain as the winning film, despite some overly long parts and its imperfections, would have been revolutionary, a real first.”

The Special Jury Prize finally awarded to The Secret of the Grain also gave rise to some disagreement between Kechiche’s supporters and those in favour of Todd Haynes’ I'm Not There (led by Jane Campion). This confrontation was only solved through a derogation of the festival’s rules, which allowed the two films to share the honour ex-aequo.

Venice artistic director Marco Müller also expressed his (diplomatic?) preference to the press yesterday by stating that his personal Golden Lion would have went either to Kechiche or Wes Anderson (for The Darjeeling Limited).

Produced by Claude Berri for Pathé Renn Productions, in co-production with Hirsch and France 2 Cinéma, The Secret of the Grain is being sold internationally by Pathé Distribution, who will be releasing the film in France (date yet to be fixed).

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(Translated from French)

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