PIETA, a South Korean tale of poverty and violence, has scooped the Golden Lion at The Venice Film Festival, battling off competition from favourite The Master.
Director Kim Ki-duk took home the award from the grand jury, headed by Michael Mann, for it's brutal but subtle portrayal of religious allegory - focusing on the antics of a bestial loan shark and a mysterious woman who claims to be his long-lost mother.
The Master the Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix starring tale of the beginnings of a religious cult in post-WW2 America was tipped for the top gong, but after taking home the awards for Best Actor - awarded to both Hoffman and Phoenix - and Best Director for Paul Thomas Anderson, the film was ineligible for another award. The rules of the Venice-based festival determine that one film can only win a maximum of two awards, meaning the Golden Lion had to be given to another film. The film is loosely based on the origins of Scientology founder L RON HUBBARD.
Kim's film had polarised critics reception upon it's airing at the preview screening, with local papers referring to the movie as the "shock film." The director later dedicated his movie to "humankind, in a situation of a deep crisis in extreme capitalism."