Joker wins top honour at Venice Film Festival

Director Todd Phillips thanked Joaquin Phoenix for starring in the movie, which focuses on the origin story of the Batman villain.

Todd Phillips' movie Joker won the Golden Lion Award for best movie at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.

Directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, the film focuses on the origin story of the DC Comics villain and was a hit with critics when it debuted at the 76th annual festival late last month.

Taking to the stage to accept the prestigious honour on Saturday, Phillips thanked studio executives at Warner Bros. and his leading man for bringing the story to life.

"I want to thank Warner Bros. and DC for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this movie," the filmmaker said as he stood with Phoenix by his side.

"There is no movie without Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin is the fiercest and brightest and most open-minded lion I know. Thank you for trusting me with your insane talent."

Joker, which received an eight-minute standing ovation at its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, is now a big contender for the Academy Awards, which will take place in February next year.

Other big winners included filmmaker Roy Andersson, who picked up the Silver Lion for Best Director for About Endlessness, Ariane Ascaride, who was given the Volpi Cup for Best Actress for her performance in Gloria Mundi, and Luca Marinelli, who received the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for Martin Eden.

And in a controversial move, director Roman Polanski's latest film, An Officer and a Spy, landed the Grand Jury Prize.

The film is based on Robert Harris' novel about the French political scandal that occurred in 1985, and stars Oscar-winning actor Jean Dujardin and Louis Garrel.

Polanski, who was convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse in the U.S. in 1978, did not attend the ceremony.

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