Joaquin Phoenix stars as a drifter who becomes the right-hand man to the leader of a cult, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, that begins to spread across the country. Loosely based on the rise of Scientology, the film was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
The top prize at the Venice Film Festival was awarded to "Pieta," Korean director Kim Ki-duk film about a ruthless debt collector who encounters a woman claiming to be his mother, though by all accounts Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" was the jury's favorite.
"The Master," which stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix in a story that closely parallels the birth of Scientology, earned Anderson the Silver Lion for best director, and the film's stars were each recognized as best actor.
"I put my suit on in the bathroom, so please don't judge," Hoffman told the crowd at the awards ceremony, before hailing Anderson as more than a colleague. "Friend first, collaborator second. And he happens to be one of the great filmmakers in the world. How lucky am I?"
The rules at Venice stipulate that the winner of the top prize cannot win any other awards. Confronted with this restriction, jurors, led by Michael Mann, decided the best way to properly recognize Anderson and his cast was not to give it the highest honor.
“It’s very hard for the jury,” said juror Samantha Morton, reported the Associated Press. ‘’If you give the Golden Lion to something, you cannot give it another award at all. You can’t give it (best) actor, you can’t give it (the) cinematography (award).”
"The Master" opens Friday, Sept. 14.
The complete list of winners:
GOLDEN LION for Best Film to PIETA by Kim Ki-duk (Republic of Korea)
SILVER LION for Best Director to THE MASTER by Paul Thomas Anderson (USA)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE to Paradies: Glaube by Ulrich Seidl (Austria, Germany, France)
COPPA VOLPI for Best Actor to Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix
in the film THE MASTER by Paul Thomas Anderson (USA)
COPPA VOLPI for Best Actress Hadas Yaron
in the film LEMALE ET HA’CHALAL by Rama Bursthein (Israel)
MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD for Best New Young Actor or Actress to Fabrizio Falco
in the films BELLA ADDORMENTATA by Marco Bellocchio (Italy) and È STATO IL FIGLIO by Daniele Ciprí (Italy)
AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY to Olivier Assayas
for the film APRES MAI by Olivier Assayas (France)
AWARD FOR THE BEST TECHNICAL CONTRIBUTION (CINEMATOGRAPHY) to Daniele Ciprì
for the film È STATO IL FIGLIO by Daniele Ciprì (Italy)
LION OF THE FUTURE – “LUIGI DE LAURENTIIS” VENICE AWARD FOR A DEBUT FILM to KÜF (MOLD) by Ali Aydin (Turkey, Germany)
ORIZZONTI AWARD FOR BEST FILM (full-length films) to
SAN ZIMEI by Wang Bing (France, Hong Kong)
SPECIAL ORIZZONTI JURY PRIZE (full-length films) to
TANGO LIBRE by Frédéric Fonteyne (France, Belgium, Luxembourg)
ORIZZONTI YOUTUBE AWARD FOR BEST SHORT FILM to
CHO-DE by Yoo Min-young (South Korea)
EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS 2012-EFA to
TITLOI TELOUS by Yorgos Zois (Greece)
GOLDEN LION FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT 2012
to Francesco Rosi
JAEGER-LECOULTRE GLORY TO THE FILMMAKER AWARD
to Spike Lee
to Michael Cimino
L’ORÉAL PARIS PER IL CINEMA AWARD
to Giulia Bevilacqua