Leoncino d’Oro to The Whale; UNICEF Signaling to Athena

Among the first winners of the 79th Venice International Film Festival are those of the Leoncino d’Oro, the collateral prize established by AGISCUOLA, promoted by A.G.I.S., A.N.E.C. and David di Donatello – Accademia del Cinema Italiano and now in its 34th edition. The Whale, Darren Aronofsky’s new film in competition at the Lido, won the recognition of the team of young jurors from all over Italy, who also awarded the Cinema For UNICEF Signaling (established in 1980 by the Italian Committee for UNICEF at the Festival) to another film in competition, Athena by Romain Gavras.

In The Whale, starring an intense and acclaimed Brendan Fraser, “an overflowing humanity, masterfully played, confronts the desperate attempt at redemption, as heartbreaking as it is necessary,” said the jurors’ motivations. “Friendship,” they continue, “religion, death and love are staged through the tormented search for sincerity in a claustrophobic atmosphere inspired by the play of the same name. A merciless film that is a heartfelt call for reconciliation with others, especially with oneself.”

Gaivras’s film (written and co-produced by Ladj Ly) and set in the banlieue of the title, stages according to the Jury’s motivations, “a modern tragedy that takes the form of a powerful crescendo of violence, where it becomes impossible to establish real responsibility. The execution of an innocent child becomes a pretext for revolt. Hatred and devastation tear apart an already fragile social fabric, where it is precisely the youth who take up arms. Discrimination, ghettoization and the absence of protection of the most basic human rights degenerate into a reality far closer than we could ever have imagined.”

Among those present at the awards ceremony were President of the Biennale Roberto Cicutto, Director of Venezia 79 Alberto Barbera the Director General of La Biennale Andrea Del Mercato, President of Unione Editori e Distributori Cinematografici Luigi Lonigro, President Accademia del Cinema Italiano – Premi David di Donatello Piera Detassis, AGIS Vice President and ANEC President Mario Lorini, Unicef Italia President Carmela Pace, Anec General Manager Simone Gialdini and Andrea Romeo, CEO of I Wonder Pictures, which will distribute The Whale in Italy. Among the winners of the Leoncino d’Oro in past editions of the Festival were Terry Gilliam’s The Legend of the Fisher King, Marco Bellocchio’s Good Morning, Night, Roman Polanski’s Carnage, Michel Franco’s Nuevo orden and Gabriele Mainetti’s Freaks Out.

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