Philippine film The Woman Who Left wins Venice Golden Lion

Filipino film maker Lav Diaz with his Golden Lion award.
Filipino film maker Lav Diaz with his Golden Lion award.PHOTO: EPA

VENICE (REUTERS/AFP) - A black-and-white movie about a woman’s thirst for revenge and her feelings of forgiveness after 30 years in jail for a crime she did not commit won the Venice Film Festival’s top prize on Saturday.

Director Lav Diaz has described Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) as a testimony to the struggles of the Philippines after centuries of colonial rule and its aftermath, and he dedicated the Golden Lion award to his homeland.

“This is for my country, for the Filipino people, for our struggle, for the struggle of humanity. Thank you, thank you so much,” the 57-year-old said as he accepted the award for his movie that has a running time of almost four hours.

Twenty US and international movies featuring top Hollywood talent and auteur directors were in competition at the world’s oldest film festival, in its 73rd outing this year.

The runner-up Grand Jury prize went to fashion-designer-turned-director Tom Ford’s thriller Nocturnal Animals, a romantic thriller about former lovers starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, with a violent revenge tale told as a story within a story.

The Silver Lion for best director was divided this year between Mexico's Amat Escalante for The Untamed, about the sex life of an extraterrestrial, tentacled creature, and Russia's Andrei Konchalovsky for Holocaust drama Paradise.

Best actor went to Argentina's Oscar Martinez for his portrayal of a cynical Nobel Prize-winning author who returns to his village for the first time in 40 years in the comedy on art and fame, The Distinguished Citizen.

US actress Emma Stone received the best actress prize for her depiction of a struggling thespian who falls head over heels in love with a jazz pianist - played by Ryan Gosling - in US musical La La Land.

"I wish I could be there to make sure it's not an elaborate prank," quipped Stone in a video message, saying she could "think of no better place in the world than Venice to premier La La Land, we had a wonderful time".

Jackie, a bio-drama which stars Natalie Portman as the grief-stricken widow of US President John F. Kennedy, meanwhile, took best screenplay, with Chilean director Pablo Larrain saying the triumph was all Portman's, "the only woman who could have played this role".