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Element Pictures' Poor Things wins coveted Golden Lion at the 80th Venice International Film Festival
11 Sep 2023 : Nathan Griffin
Yorgos Lanthimos with his Golden Lion for Poor Things.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest feature film Poor Things, the directors fourth collaboration with Irish production company Element Pictures, has won the Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Poor Things is the latest success in a fruitful relationship between Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and Element Pictures founders Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe, whose previous projects The Favourite, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and The Lobster have enjoyed impressive festival runs and garnered international acclaim including several wins and nominations at the Academy Awards. The film’s lead Emma Stone is also credited as producer alongside Guiney and Lowe.

“Thank you to the jury. I know it’s a hard job,” the director said when accepting the award. “Thank you to the festival that very enthusiastically invited the film early on. And to Ed and Andrew from Element Pictures. To the crew that worked on the film. Everybody that worked on the film. It took us quite a few years to get it made – until the world or our industry was ready for this film.”

The Golden Lion is among the most important festival prizes in the world, alongside the Cannes Palme d’Or, with previous winners including Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, and Todd Phillips’ Joker. The win places Poor Things among the frontrunners for the Academy Awards next year

The highly anticipated Poor Things tells the incredible tale and fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter (Emma Stone), a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe). Under Baxter’s protection, Bella is eager to learn. Hungry for the worldliness she is lacking, Bella runs off with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a slick and debauched lawyer, on a whirlwind adventure across the continents. Free from the prejudices of her times, Bella grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation.

The screenplay for the film, which is adapted from Scottish writer Alasdair Gray by Tony McNamara, was developed with the help of Film4, who worked with Lanthimos’ regular producers Element Pictures and co-financed the film with Searchlight Pictures, who also co-financed Lanthimos’ BAFTA and Academy Award winning film, The Favourite. The film also sees Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan reunite with Lanthimos following his work on The Favourite, which secured Ryan his first Oscar nomination.

Winners at this year’s Venice International Film Festival included: Golden Lion: Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos), Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize: Evil: Does Not Exist (Ryusuke Hamaguchi), Silver Lion Best Director:
Matteo Garrone (Io Capitano), Special Jury Prize:
Green Border (Agnieszka Holland), Best Screenplay:
Pablo Larrain and Guillermo Calderón (El Conde), Best Actress:
Cailee Spaeny (Priscilla), Best Actor: Peter Sarsgaard (Memory), and the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress:
Seydou Sarr (Io Capitano).

Poor Things will make its UK premiere next month at the London Film Festival on October 14th, ahead of Searchlight Pictures releasing the film in Irish and UK cinemas on January 12th 2024.

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