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'The Master' Venice Film Festival Controversy: P.T. Anderson Film Loses Award On Technicality

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The 69th Venice Film Festival closed out with some confusing controversy on Saturday. "The Master" was awarded with both The Silver Lion (for director Paul Thomas Anderson) and Best Actor (for both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix), but not the prestigious Golden Lion prize for Best Picture. Or, well, actually it was.

According to a report from THR.com, "The Master" won the Golden Lion, but couldn't collect the prize because of an archaic rule that states no film can win more than one award at the festival, unless actors are also rewarded. Then the film can be given two awards. As such, the jury was forced to re-deliberate to fix the mistake, and awarded the Golden Lion to South Korean director Kim Ki-duk's "Pieta."

Per the Los Angeles Times, "The Master" also won the FIPRESCI critics award for best film in competition. That special prize is not part of the Venice Film Festival rules and regulations.

"['The Master'] was awarded best director because we really thought Paul Thomas Anderson's directing was fantastic,” jury president Michael Mann told THR. “And it allowed us to award the actors. Nobody else could have played these roles. It’s a three-handed triumph."

For his part, Anderson wasn't the least bit upset.

"I'm thrilled with whatever they want to hand over," Anderson said during a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he and Phoenix are this weekend (Hoffman was in Venice for that ceremony). "I heard some of the scuttlebutt recently but I'm just thrilled with what they hand over. And that's all."

"The Master" is one of the fall most highly anticipated releases. Written and directed by Anderson, the film focuses on Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), an author who creates his own religious following during the 1950s, and Freddie Quell (Phoenix), a World War II veteran who forms a relationship with Dodd. Early reviews of the film have been strong, with many comparing Anderson's work to Stanley Kubrick.

Past Golden Lion winners include "Somewhere," "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Wrestler."

For more on the controversy, head over to THR.com. "The Master" arrives in limited release on Sept. 14.

[via THR]

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