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Italian documentary ‘Sacro GRA’ wins Golden Lion

Director Gianfranco Rosi celebrates his Golden Lifor movie 'Sacro GRA' during awards ceremony 70th editiVenice Film Festival Venice Italy Saturday

Director Gianfranco Rosi celebrates his Golden Lion for the movie 'Sacro GRA' during the awards ceremony of the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

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VENICE, Italy (AP) — The Italian film “Sacro GRA,” a documentary about life along the highway that circles Rome by director Gianfranco Rosi, won the Golden Lion for best film at the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.

Rosi called the award “a breakthrough” for documentaries, given that this edition marked the first time documentaries were included in the main competition.

“I didn’t expect to win such an important prize with a documentary,” Rosi said. “Finally documentaries are being seen alongside fiction. Documentaries are cinema.”

Rosi dedicated the prize to the characters in the film “who allowed me to enter in their lives. Some of them became involuntary protagonists, without knowing it.”

It was the first time an Italian film has won the top prize at Venice in 15 years, when Gianni Amelio won for “The Way We Laughed” in 1998.

The Silver Lion for best director went to Alexandros Avranas of Greece for “Miss Violence,” a disturbing look at sexual violence and abuse perpetrated by a grandfather.

Greek actor Themis Panou won the best actor prize for his leading role in “Miss Violence,” and Italian actress Elena Cotta won best actress for her role in Emma Dante’s “A Street in Palermo,” about two women who reach a standoff when their cars come grill-to-grill in a narrow Sicilian street.

Tye Sheridan, 16, won the best young actor award for his role opposite Nicolas Cage in “Joe” as a boy who looks to Cage’s Joe for guidance as he struggles with an abusive and drunkard father. Sheridan has appeared previously in Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” and Jeff Nichols’ “Mud.”

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