Quentin Tarantino Accused of Favoritism at Venice Film Festival

Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere is one of the more anticipated fall/winter indie releases that, for whatever reason, did not end up playing at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. It did, however, premiere at the Venice Film Festival last week, where it ended up winning the festival’s top award: the coveted Golden Lion. The second place Silver Lion went to Alex de la Iglesia’s Balada Triste de Trompeta (The Last Circus), while Vincent Gallo won the Best Actor award for a dialogue-free role in Essential Killing. Many of the award winners came as surprises, particularly to local film critics, and now the festival’s jury president Quentin Tarantino is coming under fire for potentially showing favoritism in his selections. But is there any truth to this?

As some people may know, Quentin Tarantino and Sofia Coppola used to be an item back in in the mid-2000s, and although Coppola is now married to Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars, some people are using this as ammunition against QT’s decision. Tarantino’s friend Monte Hellman was also given a special career award. The general feeling seems to be that most of the films and performances that critics praised were not the ones that ended up getting recognition (such as Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan).

While I don’t doubt that there is politics involved in handing out awards at some of the bigger festivals, I also have a feeling that here it’s more a case of Tarantino’s taste in film being on a slightly different wavelength. Besides, if you’re going to pick jury members at film festivals who work and have friends in the industry, these kinds of conflicts of interest are going to be hard to avoid completely. Do you think Tarantino is in the wrong here? He has denied the accusations (obviously), but it’s unfortunate that something like this could tarnish Coppola’s win. All I know is that I’m now even more psyched to see it.

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  • BrutalHomer

    I don’t think he favored anyone.
    And we can’t really know anyway, we haven’t seen the film.
    Maybe Somewhere is just that good!

  • MJS

    There were other people on the jury…

  • Werner

    It’s true that QT had the most say in selecting the movies – but there are 7 heads in the jury.

    Coppola had all her movies premier at Venice – and each time they got high praise.

  • he’s favored Robert Rodriguez and his shit movies for years

  • jack in venice

    There were other people on the Jury, but i don’t think it’s too cynical to suppose that it’s useful for them to make friends with Tarantino, i think he ultimately controlled the jury.
    I saw Somewhere and liked it, but i thought there were other films (Post Mortem, Mirel) that would have been more deserving winners.

  • Antho42

    When he was in charge of Cannes, didn’t he award the highest award to a Micheal Moore’ documentary?

  • Henrik

    He did! I think because he is a big fan of propaganda movies (See also: His US endorsement of Hero). I mean Tarantino loves all genre movies, and the propaganda genre is pretty under-represented so it would make sense that he would award what was bound to be the propaganda movie of the decade.

  • Steve

    I don’t think there’s any ‘favouritism’ if it’s as good as it sounds. From QT’s perspective, he’s in a lose-lose situation. Even if Coppola’s film was the best thing in the history of film-making, he’d STILL be copping these accusations if he went with it. And what’s the alternative? Potentially snubbing the deserving winner?