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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Two Chinese Directors Win Top Prizes in Venice

VENICE, Italy -- China's best-known director and a Chinese filmmaker whose work is blacklisted by the Beijing authorities won the top prizes at the Venice film festival.

Zhang Yimou, who put Chinese cinema on the map with "Red Sorghum," "Raise the Red Lantern" and "To Live," scooped the Golden Lion for best movie for his eloquent tale of a rural village school, "Not One Less."

Zhang Yuan won a new award - the special prize for best director - for "Seventeen Years," a searing tale of a reunion between a woman jailed for 17 years and her family.

Zhang Yuan had complained that the Chinese authorities, who refused to recognize his film officially, had intended that only Zhang Yimou be represented at the festival.

"It's quite rare for two Chinese films both to win prizes at the same festival. It means both are interesting and went down well," he said. "This prize ... is an incentive for all new Chinese cinema."

Iran's Abbas Kiarostami won the grand prize of the jury for his evocative "Le Vent Nous Emportera" (The Wind Will Carry Us) and used the occasion to make the shock announcement that he would no longer compete in festivals.

"Even athletes become trainers to leave room for the young," said Kiarostami, who won the Palme d'Or at Cannes for his "Taste of the Cherry." "I have to do the same."

The top prizes contained no surprises.

Zhang Yimou's film, reminiscent of "The Story of Qiu Ju" for which he won at Venice in 1992, was adored by the critics and Kiarostami's beautifully shot movie also won widespread support.

Yimou's movie is a textbook example of the director's mastery at taking a humble plot, seasoning it with realism and making it memorable. In addition, he used real people doing what they did in real life, instead of actors.

A new prize of $100,000 and 20,000 meters of film for the director of the best first movie shown at the Venice festival was awarded to Giovanni Davide Maderna for "Questo e il Giardino" (This is the Garden).

The jury, headed by Bosnian director Emir Kusturica, awarded best actor prize to Jim Broadbent for his portrayal of operetta star William Gilbert in Mike Leigh's "Topsy Turvy." France's Nathalie Baye won best actress for her part in Belgian director Frederic Fonteyne's "Une Liaison Pornographique" (A Pornographic Affair).

Veteran comic actor and director Jerry Lewis won a Golden Lion for the achievements of his career.