Mexican director Guillermo del Toro became today the second Mexican and third Latin American director to win the Golden Lion, the top prize for Best Film, at the Venice Film Festival, for his American sci-fi fantasy drama The Shape of the Water. Del Toro follows in the footsteps of Spanish-born Mexican director Luis Buñuel, winner of the Golden Lion in 1967 for his French-Italian coproduction film Belle de Jour, and Venezuelan director Lorenzo Vigas for his debut feature film From Afar in 2015.
In his acceptance speech del Toro erroneously mentioned that his win marked a first for a Mexican national, and dedicated the award to young Mexican and Latin American filmmakers who are trying to push the fantasy genre, despite any setbacks they may face.
Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon. Richard Jenkins, and Octavia Spencer, The Shape of the Water follows Elisa, a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab's classified secret -- a mysterious, scaled creature from South America that lives in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent and a marine biologist.
The 74th edition of the Venice Film Festival took place August 30 - September 9 in Italy.
Correction: An earlier version of this post, erroneously stated that del Toro's win marked the second Golden Lion award for a Latin American filmmaker. Spanish-born Mexican director Luis Buñuel became the first Latin American filmmaker to win the award in 1967 for Belle de Jour. For a more detailed explanation read the post Historical Clarification: Del Toro Is the Second Mexican Director to Win Venice's Coveted Golden Lion.