Poor Things, the latest film of Greek film director Yorgos Lanthimos, won the Golden Lion at the 80th Venice Film Festival that concluded its run last Saturday.
The film produced by Lanthimos, its star, American actress Emma Stone and Irish producers Andrew Lowe and Ed Guiney, won top honors at the festival competing with 22 films directed by world-renowned directors like Sofia Coppola, David Fincher, Matteo Garrone, Pablo Larraín, Ava DuVernay and Ryusuke Hamaguchi, among others.
Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni congratulated Lanthimos and the film’s cast and creatives for winning the award, through an official ministerial announcement.
“This Golden Lion is a testament to Lanthimos’ talent, his personal yet widely recognizable cinematic writing and, above all, a long, fruitful, upward trajectory of creativity,” Mendoni noted.
Upon its premiere, earlier this month, the film garnered rave reviews. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Poor Things has an approval rating of 98 percent from 46 reviews, while on Metacritic, a popular website that aggregates reviews of films, television shows, music albums and video games, the film holds a weighted average score of 94 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating “universal acclaim.”
According to Searchlight Pictures, the film’s distribution company which is part of the Walt Disney Studios, 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. ”
Characterized by critics as a “surrealist, steampunk, black comedy“, Poor Things is based on the 1992 novel of the same name written by acclaimed Scottish writer Alasdair Gray. It was adapted into a film script by Academy Award nominated Australian playwright and screenwriter Tony McNamara.
Following its Golden Lion win at the Venice Film Festival, the 141-minute-long film which will open in US movie theaters in December 2023 and Greece and the UK in January 2024. Popular Oscar prediction platforms like GoldDerby and AwardsCircuit see Poor Things garnering 7 to 11 nominations and winning 3 to 5 Oscars including a second Best Actress Academy Award for Emma Stone.
Greek film director Yorgos Lanthimos was born in Greece in 1973. A private high school graduate, he first pursued studies in Business Administration before dropping out to study film directing at the Stavrakos film school in Athens.
He rose to prominence with his third feature film, the Greek psychological drama Dogtooth, which won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards.
His fourth feature film, Alps (2011), won the Best Screenplay award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival.
Following the impact of the Greek economic crisis on the local film industry, Lanthimos moved abroad and directed a string of high profile English speaking movies starring international movie stars like Nicole Kidman, Emma Stone, Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman, among others.
He has received numerous accolades including four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, and a BAFTA Award as well as nominations for three Academy Awards and a Golden Globe Award.
Greek artists at the Venice film Festival
Yorgos Lanthimos isn’t the only Greek director or artist to win awards at the Venice Film Festival.
In 1980, Greek film auteur Theodore Angelopoulos won a Golden Lion for Best Experimental Film for his movie Alexander the Great, while more recently, in 2013, Alexandros Avranas’ film Miss Violence won 4 awards including the Silver Lion for Best Director.