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Last Updated: Monday, 13 September, 2004, 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK
Italian media anger over Venice
Charlotte Rampling
British actress Charlotte Rampling stars in Le Chiavi di Casa
The Italian press has complained after one of its country's films was beaten to the top awards at the Venice Film Festival by a British production.

Mike Leigh's film Vera Drake took the Golden Lion for best film and Briton Imelda Staunton won best actress.

But Italy's newspapers voiced their disappointment that Le Chiavi di Casa (The House Keys) by Gianni Amelio was missing from the award winners.

Rome's La Repubblica headline on Sunday read "Venice disappoints our cinema".

Mike Leigh won the Golden Lion, not just some nobody
Gianni Amelio

Milan's Corriere della Sera headlined its front page story, "Venice betrays Amelio".

Film critic Tullio Kezich said it was "difficult to justify in any way the exclusion of director Gianni Amelio" for his film about a man's relationship with his disabled son.

'Humanitarian message'

He asked why the jury "did not want to throw light on the poetic values and the strong humanitarian message of the film".

Mike Leigh's Vera Drake beat 21 other films to win the Golden Lion, which was awarded at a gala ceremony on Saturday.

The jury, headed by British director John Boorman, included two Italians.

But Amelio told La Repubblica: "Frankly, I don't feel defeated, and I don't see why I ought to say I'm the victim of an injustice.

"Mike Leigh won the Golden Lion, not just some nobody."

Amelio was the last Italian director to win the Golden Lion when his film Cosi Ridevano (The Way We Laughed) received the award in 1998.

Festival director Marco Mueller said Venice would adjust its prize-giving rules, adding a new system could help Italian films and others win awards, the ANSA news agency reported.

Best young actor was won jointly by Tommaso Ramenghi and Marco Luisi for the Italian film Lavorare con Lentezza (Working Slowly), directed by Guido Chiesa.


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