Ang Lee film is surprise winner in Venice
Sat Sept. 8, 2007 3:13 PM ET
By Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi
VENICE (Reuters) - Taiwanese director Ang Lee's sexually explicit "Lust, Caution" was the surprise winner of the Golden Lion for best picture at the Venice film festival on Saturday, just two years after he won with "Brokeback Mountain."
The movie is a World War Two thriller set in Shanghai featuring long and sometimes violent sex scenes which Lee has hinted were real.
"It is overwhelming, because this movie has taken me to some very difficult places," Lee told the red carpet award ceremony on the Lido waterfront.
"I have invited you to come along with me and in the end to stay down there with me ... You are the seven samurais, I needed your help," he added, addressing the seven-member jury.
Brian De Palma, whose "Redacted" shocked audiences in Venice with its brutal reconstruction of the real-life rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers, won the Silver Lion award for best director.
Tunisian-born director Abdellatif Kechiche and his drama "La Graine et le mulet" ("The Secret of the Grain"), was one of two runner-up jury prize winners, and was described by the jury as the "revelation" of the 2007 edition of the festival.
The film is about an old Arab man and his family seeking to realize their dream of opening a restaurant in southern France.
While not overtly political, it touches on the issue of integration by immigrants, and whether they have what the director called the "right to be different."
Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There," one of six U.S. productions in the 23-strong main competition, took the other runner-up prize for his conceptual biopic about singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.
In a bold piece of casting, Australian-born Cate Blanchett was one of six performers to play the singer at various stages of his life, and it paid off when she was named best actress in Venice this year.
Hollywood star Brad Pitt was the surprise winner of the best actor award for his portrayal of outlaw Jesse James in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."
His co-star, Casey Affleck, who played James' killer Ford as a creepy social misfit, had been widely expected to scoop the prize.
Venice director Marco Mueller, facing competition from festivals in Rome and Toronto, succeeded in attracting some of Hollywood's biggest stars, although his decision to invite so many U.S. films was criticized for making Venice too commercial.
Pitt and partner Angelina Jolie came to the canal city with their children, and George Clooney, Woody Allen, Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron and Keira Knightley all wowed the noisy crowds gathering along the red carpet each night.