French Abortion Drama ‘Happening’ Tops Venice Film Festival

Audrey Diwan’s 1960s abortion drama “L’Evenement” (“Happening”) won the Golden Lion at the 78th Venice International Film Festival, while the runner up honor went to Paolo Sorrentino’s semi-autobiographical “The Hand of God.”

Diwan’s film about a French college student who finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy was the unanimous choice from the prestigious jury that included recent Oscar winners Bong Joon Ho and Chloé Zhao.

The competition this year was robust, including well-received films like Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” Pedro Almodóvar’s “Parallel Mothers,” Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” and “The Hand of God.” Twenty-one films were vying for the prize, which has become a promising early indicator of a film’s Oscars prospects.

Sorrentino’s “The Hand of God,” based on a formative personal tragedy, took the Silver while Campion won the Silver Lion for best director for her period epic “The Power of her Dog.” It’s her second time winning a runner-up prize at Venice. Her first was in 1990 for “An Angel at My Table,” a Janet Frame biopic.

Penélope Cruz won the Volpi Cup for best actress for her performance as a new mother in Almodovar’s “Parallel Mothers.” She thanked her director and frequent collaborator for “Inspiring me every day with your search for truth.”

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