Rosi hails art of documentary after Golden Lion

'Finally documentary is cinema' says director of 'Sacro Gra'

Rosi hails art of documentary after Golden Lion

(By Emily Backus). Rome, September 9 - Italy's Gianfranco Rosi said the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion for his picture of life around Rome's ring road, 'Sacro Gra', meant documentary films could aspire to equal status alongside traditional made-up ones. "Finally, the documentary stands up to fiction. Finally, documentary is cinema," Rosi declared after the best-film laurel - the first to go to a documentary in the history of the world's oldest film festival. When his name was announced, Rosi went on stage, bowed and kissed the hands of the jury chairman - famed director Bernardo Bertolucci - and then kissed each member of the jury. "I truly didn't expect it," Rosi said, "I didn't expect a prize for a documentary film, as it was already a great achievement to make it into the running". Rosi praised Bertolucci - 72-year-old director of films like Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor and The Sheltering Sky - for leading the way to the unprecedented jury choice. "Only a revolutionary filmmaker like him could give this film such a big prize," Rosi said. The Golden Lion for 'Sacro Gra' - a pun on the ring road's name which evokes the Italian for Holy Grail - also marks the first time in 15 years that the prize has gone to an Italian film. Rosi spent two years in a mini-van circling the Grande Raccordo Anulare (Great Ring Road) filming conversations with a cross-section of society he found there including a count, a paramedic and a botanist tending palm trees. He dedicated the prize to the characters in the film "who allowed me to enter in their lives". The Silver Lion for best director went to Greece's Alexandros Avranas for Miss Violence - a film that also garnered Themis Panou's best actor award. Tsai Ming-liang's Chinese film 'Jiaoyou' (Stray Dogs) took the Grand Jury Prize. Italy's Elena Cotta, 82, took the Volpi Cup for best actress for her role as an indomitable driver in 'Via Castellana Bandiera', a parking row in a Palermo street that deliberately echoes Sergio Leone's trademark stand-offs. The few wins by Italian talent "should not hide the true situation of Italian cinema", said Venice Film Festival Director Alberto Barbera at the end of the festival. Barbera explained that 155 films, 77 documentaries and more than 200 short films were screened for this year's festival - nearly double compared to the past. "But the quantity does not correspond to quality. The films I saw, a lot of first works, are not of the medium-high quality that brings people into the cinema," said Barbera. Barbera urged investment in the Italian film sector as the best means of boosting Italian cinema's share of domestic box office receipts.

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