Despite the political and social turmoil that has overwhelmed Venezuela for more than a decade, one bit of unexpected good news came from the jury panel of the 72nd Venice Film Festival. Venezuela’s entry From Afar (Desde Alla) starring Chilean actor Alfredo Castro and newly discovered talent Luis Silva was awarded the Golden Lion, the maximum award given to the films in competition, and trumping all advanced predictions. The film directed by Lorenzo Vigas and produced in cooperation with Mexico, depicts the relationship between an aging gay man and a young street hood, raised on the violent streets of Caracas. The difficult and constant struggle for life, love and friendship amidst the violent backdrop of Venezuela’s capital, named one of the most violent cities in the world certainly had enough elements to entice the jury in its favor.
Mexican director, Alfonzo Cuaron holds the position of jury President in this year’s festival, accompanied by fellow jury members and known directors such as Pawel Pawlikowski, Lynne Ramsay, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Hou Hsiao-hsien. Certainly with a jury not lacking in auteur numbers, many expected the Golden Lion to be awarded to the film Anomalisa, a stop-motion animation film, according to The Guardian. From Afar is the first Venezuelan film to be in competition in Venice but perhaps with the important precedent set in this year’s La Biennale, it may not be the last.