‘The Shape of Water’ Takes Top Venice Film Festival Prize

The festival’s first ever competition prize for best VR was given to “Arden’s Wake (Expanded)” by a jury led by the director John Landis. Laurie Anderson’s “La Camera Insabbiata” won for best virual reality experience, and “Bloodless,” about a camp town serving United States Army soldiers in South Korea, won for best virtual reality story.

The festival’s Orizzonti competition, sometimes home to more adventurous works, awarded best film to the music biopic “Nico, 1988” by the director Susanna Nicchiarelli. The Iranian film “No Date, No Signature” won two prizes, for best director and best actor. The section’s special jury prize was bestowed on “Caniba,” whose directors Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor gave their thanks in a video message featuring floating heart effects.


Charlotte Rampling, winner of the best actress award for “Hannah.”

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement were presented last week to Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, who starred in the out-of-competition selection “Our Souls at Night.”

Earlier Saturday the International Federation of Film Critics chose two films for its awards: Frederick Wiseman’s latest documentary, “Ex Libris: The New York Public Library,” screening in competition, and “Oblivion Verses,” an offbeat debut feature by Alireza Khatami about a morgue worker. On Friday, the sidebar section Critics’ Week gave its top prize to the father-son drama “Hunting Season,” from an Argentine filmmaker, Natalia Garagiola.

The official competition was notable for big films that approached issues of social concern from surprising angles. The festival’s opening film, Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing,” received raves from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter for its tragicomic story starring Matt Damon as a man who undergoes a popular shrinking process in order to cut costs. George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, “Suburbicon,” is a slow-burn caper set in a 1950s suburban development that has accepted its first black family. It is scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen and also stars Mr. Damon alongside Julianne Moore, and evoked some comparison to the race-based mob violence last month in Charlottesville.

Mr. Wiseman’s “Ex Libris” and Mr. Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” were two very different favorites on…

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