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Venice Film Festival: French Drama ‘Happening’ Wins the Golden Lion Award for Best Film

Happening (L’Evénement), the French drama film on illegal abortion conducted in the 1960s, won the Golden Lion award for Best Film at the 78th Venice Film Festival.


Happening follows the story of Anne, a young college student who wants to get an abortion at a time when the act could either lead to rigorous imprisonment or death.

Directed by Audrey Diwan, the film is adapted from the autobiographical book of the same name by Annie Ernaux. According to a report by the Deadline, Diwan’s victory comes a year after director Chloe Zhao won the prize for the film Nomadland.

Diwan’s win makes her the sixth woman to win the Golden Lion award. According to Variety, she won the prize from a jury that was presided over by director Bong Joon-Ho.

Reacting to her win, Diwan said, “I did this movie with anger. I did it with desire, also my heart and my head. I wanted Happening to be an experience, a journey in the skin of this young woman.”

Happening’s success makes it the second French film to win big at an international film festival this year. Earlier, director Julia Ducournau’s fantasy film Titane won Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.


The other awards for the night included actor Penelope Cruz winning the Best Actress prize for her performance in Parallel Mothers. Actor John Arcilla won the Best Actor award for On The Job: The Missing 8.

The Grand Jury Prize went to the semi-autobiographical drama film The Hand of God, directed by Paolo Sorrentino.

New Zealand- based filmmaker Jane Campion took home the Best Director award for the film The Power of Dog, starring English film actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

Actor-turned-director Maggie Gyllenhaal won Best Screenplay for her directorial debut The Lost Daughter. Additionally, the Special Jury Prize went to Italian director Michelangelo Frammartino for his drama documentary Il Buco.