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Mahaffy wins in Venice

In 2012 Jake Mahaffy’s short Miracle Boy played in competition in Venice. Three years on, he’s returned to Venice for the world premiere outing of his feature Free In Deed which this weekend won the Best Film gong in the festival’s Orrizonti (Horizons) programme.

Mahaffy and lead actress Edwina Findley (Get Hard and TV series Veep, Treme) were in Venice to collect the award, with American producers Michael Bowes, Adam Hohenberg and Mike Ryan.

Considered a difficult film because of its faith healing subject matter, IndieWire’s review by Jessica Kiang noted “the film is refreshingly free of the kind of judgments that a wholehearted atheist might make” and summed it up by saying, “Mahaffy’s uncompromising approach, and the quality of its performances, make it a rare and valuable testament.”

Guy Lodge’s Variety review called it a “searing, skeptical but roundly compassionate ecclesiastical drama”, observing that marked “a long-time-coming consolidation of promise, arriving seven years after his tough narrative debut, Wellness, won the Grand Jury Prize at South by Southwest.”

Free In Deed was made with NZFC support, awarded a little shy of $100,000 in production financing.

Elsewhere in Venice, the winner of the festival’s Golden Lion was probably the biggest surprise of the awards bash although a few of the awards in the main competition left some scratching their heads. Lorenzo Vigas’s Desde Allá (From Afar) victory gave Venezuela a perfect start at Venice: one film selected, one Golden Lion taken away.

Big Screen Symposium presenter and recent Script to Screen FilmLab mentor Guillermo Arriaga (Babel, 21 Grams) is among the producers of From Afar.

The Venice Film Festival Award winners were:

Golden Lion for Best Film
DESDE ALLÁ (FROM AFAR) by Lorenzo Vigas (Venezuela, Mexico) 
Silver Lion for Best Director
Pablo Trapero, EL CLAN (Argentina, Spain) 
Grand Jury Prize
ANOMALISA by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson (USA) 
Coppa Volpi for Best Actress
Valeria Golino, PER AMOR VOSTRO by Giuseppe Gaudino (Italy) 
Coppa Volpi for Best Actor
Fabrice Luchini, L’HERMINE by Christian Vincent (France) 
Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor
Abraham Attah, BEASTS OF NO NATION by Cary Joji Fukunaga (USA) 
Best Screenplay
Christian Vincent, L’HERMINE by Christian Vincent  (France) 
Special Jury Prize
ABLUKA (FRENZY) by Emin Alper (Turkey, France, Qatar) 
“LUIGI DE LAURENTIIS” Venice award for a debut film

THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER by Brady Corbet (United Kingdom, Hungary)

Best Film

FREE IN DEED by Jake Mahaffy (USA, New Zealand) 
Best Director
Brady Corbet, THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER by Brady Corbet (United Kingdom, Hungary) 
Jury Prize
BOI NEON (NEON BULL) by Gabriel Mascaro (Brazil, Uruguay, The Netherlands) 
Best Actor
Dominique Leborne, TEMPÊTE by Samuel Collardey
Best Short Film
BELLADONNA by Dubravka Turic (Croatia) 
Venice Short Film Nomination for the European Film Awards 2015
E.T.E.R.N.I.T. by Giovanni Aloi (France) 
Best Documentary on Cinema

THE 1000 EYES OF DR. MADDIN by Yves Montmayeur (France) 
Best Restored Film
SALÒ O LE 120 GIORNATE DI SODOMA by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1975, Italy, France) 

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement 2015

Bertrand Tavernier 
Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to The Filmmaker Award 2015
Brian De Palma 
Persol Tribute Visionary Talent Award 2015
Jonathan Demme 
L’oréal Paris per il Cinema Award
Valentina Corti

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