Audrey Diwan wins the Golden Lion in the most female awarded Venice Film Festival

Alexia Muiños Ruiz
Alexia Muiños Ruiz

Audrey Diwan abortion drama, L'Événement, crowns her as the 6th female director winning Biennale's Big Prize

The 78th Venice Film Festival will not remain as a balanced edition as regards films directed by women. However, the impact of these films  in one of the top-notch Biennale of the latest years, has earned them a Golden Lion to Audrey Diwan and Silver Lion for best Director to Jane Campion and Award for Best Screenplay to Maggie Gyllenhaal. The fact that these three big prizes went to female films, marks a milestone which hopefully blazes a new trail for films in Venice.


Despite a modest 21% of films directed by women in the Competition, with four films directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, Jane Campion, Audrey Diwan, Maggie Gyllenhaal and one co-directed by Natasha Merkulova, the jury presided by Bong Joon-Ho and with last year's winner, Chloé Zhao, agreed to present the Golden Lion Award to Audrey Diwan's poignant drama.

Finally, the much anticipated film by Jane Campion which hopefully will bring her back to the big screen, The Power of The Dog (New Zealand, Australia), received the Silver Lion Award for Best Director. It is Campion's first feature film after 2008's Bright Star and her first film backed from Netflix, where the film will be screened after a brief cinematic release.


Furthermore, the debut film by Maggie Gyllenhaal,  The lost Daughter  (Greece, USA, UK, Israel) was acknowledged with the AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY

The iconic Hollywood actress Jamie Lee Curtis was honoured with GOLDEN LION FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT and Penélope Cruz received the COPPA VOLPI for Best Actress in the film MADRES PARALELAS  by Pedro Almodóvar.

The Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film was presented to Imaculat by Monica Stan and co-directed by George Chiper-Lille


The Golden Lion: l'Événement

Diwan's film was a fitting winner for an outstanding festival packed with strong women's stories, in a year after the pandemic edition and three years after the open letter claiming more presence of women in the competition .

L'Évenément (Happening) is the adaptation of the auto biographical novel by Annie Ernaux, revolving around a college student who finds out she is pregnant and there are no way-outs in early-1960s France to handle the situation. The script is penned by Diwan and co-writer Marcia Romano.

Diwan is the sixth female director to win the Venice festival, after Margarette Von trotta (1981), Agnès Varda (1985), Mira Nair (2001) Sophia Coppola (2010) and Chloé Zhao (2020).  What a year for French films, since Happening is the second French triumph at a A-list festival since Titane, by Julia Ducournauscooped the Palme D'Or in Cannes.

Women's films at Sidebar sections

With a nourished official competition of 76 feature-length films, we miss substantial presence of women in all the sidebar sections. Perhaps the pandemic 2020 selection including 8 films in the competition directed by women was just a mirage or a reaction after the shortage of women's films in 2019. When will the festival publish the numbers of films directed by women submitted and selected?

A mere 10.5% of women-directed films made it to the Out of the competition section, with Republic of silence by Diana el Jeiroudi and Deandré storia di un impiegato by Roberta Lena.

The sidebar section Orizzonti screened only three films directed by women (15%).

Il paradiso del Pavone by Laura Bispuri

Vera andrron detin (vera dreams of the sea) by Kaltrina Krasniqi

El otro Tom by Rodrigo Plá co-directed by Laura Santullo

And lastly, we are delighted to congratulate EWA member Silvana Santamaria, producer of the documentary The Mother of All Lies by Asmae El Moudir, selected in Final Cut in Venice section and recipient of two awards at the Venice Production Bridge.

TheMother of all lies