The dark drama Joker, about the origins of the villainous character and Batman nemesis, has won the top award at the Venice Film Festival.
Winning the prestigious Golden Lion award cemented the movie’s place as a legitimate contender for the rest of the awards season. Todd Phillips’ movie is already tipped for Oscar glory.
However, the movie’s star Joaquin Phoenix, who won rave reviews from critics at the festival, lost out on the best actor prize, which went to Italy’s Luca Marinelli.
French actress Ariane Ascaride won the best actress award for Gloria Mundi, playing a mother desperate to help her financially strapped family.
Roman Polanski’s movie An Officer And A Spy took the runner-up Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize.
Polanski, a controversial director who fled the US after pleading guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles, did not travel to Venice for the festival. The award was collected by his wife, actress Emmanuelle Seigner, who stars in the film.
Earlier, Hundreds of climate change protesters staged a sit-in on the red carpet, calling for action on climate change, along with a ban on cruise ships entering the Italian city.
They sat on the red carpet, chanting and waving banners saying: “Our home is on fire” and “No to cruise ships”.
Speaking about the protest, Mick Jagger, who was promoting the thriller The Burnt Orange Heresy, said: “I am glad they’re [protesting] because they’re the ones that are going to inherit the planet.
“We’re in a very difficult situation at the moment, especially in the US, where all the environmental controls that were put in place, that perhaps were just about adequate say for the last 10 years, are being rolled back by the current administration, so much that they will be wiped out.
He said the US, “which is, should be the world leader in environmental controls has lost that and has decided to go the other way”.
“I am glad people feel so strongly about it they want to protest anywhere whether it’s the red carpet or another place.”
Donald Sutherland, also at the festival promoting the movie, said protesters had to “fight harder” and “get as much support as they can”.
He added: “When you’re my age… 85 years old and you have children and grandchildren, you will leave them nothing if we do not vote those people out of office in Brazil, in London and in Washington. They are ruining the world.
“We have contributed to the ruination of it but they are ensuring it.”
A five-day Climate Camp took place in Venice to coincide with the famous film festival, which finished with the awards ceremony on Saturday.
Sina Reisch from the German group Ende Gelande, said: “The climate crisis has no borders.
“Why should we stop at some border and just care about some local problems that we have back home?
“We must see that the struggles are connected.”
After several hours of demonstrating, the protesters left the event early on Saturday afternoon.