Sacro GRA – an unassuming documentary about life on the ring road, circling Rome, directed by Venice Film Festival regular Gianfranco Rosi, surprisingly came out as the frontrunner and won the festival’s Golden Lion distinction yesterday (Saturday, September 8.) Sacro GRA’s win came as something of a surprise, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Not only was the film not considered a favorite to win, but it is the first Italian film to win in seventeen years and the first documentary in the festival’s history to take the prestigious award.

The winners’ list was quite a diverse one, as Greek director Alexandros Avranas won the Silver Lion for best director with his Miss Violence. The film is a dramatic account of an 11-year-old girl’s apparent suicide. An investigation is started into Angeliki’s death, but her family insists that it was just a tragic accident. The film did remarkably well at the festival. Besides winning the Silver Lion, Miss Violence also earned its lead actor Themis Panou, the Copa Volpo for best actor.

The Silver Lion for best actress went to Elena Cotta playing a stubborn woman in a traffic feud in Via Castellana Bandiera. The film was dramatist Emma Dante’s debut in film direction.

The newly created jury prize this year went to Tsai Ming-Liang, who is a Golden Lion laureate. This year Ming-liang’s JiaoYou won the judges at VFF’s sympathies. The film tells the story of a man, living with his two children on the edge of Taiwanese society.