The Italian press, which before the Venice Film Festival had celebrated the high number of Italian films in the festival's official selection, has gone into a period of soul searching and finger pointing after Italian films were for the most part excluded from the event's major prizes.
The festival concluded Saturday with the top prize going to the Israeli feature Lebanon. Brit Colin Firth won the best actor prize for his work in A Single Man, directed by first-time U.S. director Tom Ford. Iran's Shirin Neshat won the best director prize for her work on Zanan Bedoone Mardan (Women Without Men).
La Doppia Ora (The Double Hour), from Italian director Giuseppe Capotondi, received a nod, but it was for the performance of Russian-born Ksenia Rappoport, who received the best actress award for playing an Eastern European immigrant to Italy.
Oscar winner Giuseppe Tornatore's Baaria -- the most expensive Italian film ever made, and the first Italian film to open the Venice festival in more than two decades -- was one of four Italian films that screened in competition in Venice. It was left without a major prize when the festival ended.
The last time an Italian film received the Golden Lion was 1998, when Gianni Amelio's Cosi Ridevano (The Way We Laughed) won the fest's top prize.
Cinema looks to place the blame for the delusion of Venice, a headline in Corriere della Sera's Monday edition said, quoting several leading cinema figures expressing their disappointment at the lack of trophies for Italian movies. L'Unita weighed in on the lack of major prizes for Italian films by saying there were only minor prizes for minor films and that the results proved that the Italian cinema industry produced films that were a better fit on television than on the big screen. La Stampa said that criticisms left Venice on the defensive.
The Italian prize drought in Venice stirred reactions on Italian cinema blogs that ranged from disappointment to anger to resignation.
But there was at least one bright spot for Italian films: Il Giornale quoted jury president Ang Lee -- himself a two-time winner of Venice's Golden Lion award -- as saying that if it had been up to him alone, he would have given the top prize to Baaria.