A film about illegal abortions in 1960s France has won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Audrey Diwan’s Happening (L’Événement) is about a woman who wants to quit her job so she can continue her studies.
“I did this film with rage, desire, my belly, guts, heart, and head,” Diwan said as she accepted the award.
The film comes after Texas passed controversial new laws prohibiting abortion after six weeks.
The 78th edition of the world’s oldest film festival concluded on Saturday night, with international celebrities lining the red carpet in Venice.
The event was a stark contrast to last year’s, when guests were required to wear masks during screenings and approximately half of the seats on the Lido waterfront were left empty due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The winning film, Happening, is based on Annie Ernaux’s autobiographical novel and depicts a young woman seeking a termination in order to continue her studies, despite the risk of prison or death.
A jury led by Parasite director Bong Joon-Ho chose the winner.
The Silver Lion was awarded to Italian director Paolo Sorrentino for The Hand of God, a film about his childhood in the southern city of Naples.
Other female filmmakers were also honoured at the ceremony on Saturday, with New Zealand’s Jane Campion winning best director for The Power of the Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Meanwhile, Maggie Gyllenhaal won the award for best screenplay for The Lost Daughter, starring Olivia Colman.
Penelope Cruz was named best actress for her performance in Parallel Mothers, directed by Pedro Almodovar of Spain. The award for Best Actor went to Filipino actor John Arcilla for his performance in the crime thriller On the Job: The Missing 8.
Last year’s top prize was given to Nomadland, a US film about a widow living as a nomad after the 2008 financial crisis.