September 8, 2023

Venice International Film Festival: the winning films of the UNIMED Award 2023


During the 80th edition of the Venice International Film Festival, an international jury, composed of 19 students from universities in the Euro-Mediterranean region and associated with UNIMED, awarded two important prizes made by recognised artists.

The first prize was awarded to the best film in the official competition, while the second prize was awarded to the film in the official competition that most effectively and coherently represents cultural diversity.

The 2023 UNIMED jury awarded the UNIMED Award for Best Film to ‘Poor Things’ by Yorgos Lanthimos with the following motivation:

Set in an original setting that combines the ancient and the modern, “Poor Things” is a film that allows the viewer to push the boundaries of their understanding of reality. Lanthimos provides us with a narrative of the human experience, albeit transposed into an extremely surreal context, characterized by a fundamental naiveté that enables greater empathy from the audience. The viewer is here encouraged to rely on the eyes of the protagonist to discover themselves and to explore and see the world around them in which they live.

The creature she represents, deliberately referencing the most famous figure of Frankenstein’s creation, appears ethereal, childlike, despite inhabiting the body of an adult woman, an entity still unfinished, lacking its human part. The protagonist explores herself, her sexuality, and it is through this exploration that she matures, grows, and develops.

Through the discovery of the realm of sexuality, in a work that serves as a metaphor for existence itself, the human relationship, specifically the female one, with the external world is recounted in a continuous discovery that gradually emerges from self-awareness and consciousness of one’s own body.

The UNIMED Award 2023 for Cultural Diversity was instead awarded to ‘Green border’ by Agnieszka Holland with the following motivation:

Set on the border between Belarus and Poland, “Green Border” represents a document of fundamental importance in contemporary history. The story narrates with incredible truth and determination the events that unfolded from 2021 during the last humanitarian crisis. Told from multiple perspectives, the story revolves around the refugees who sought asylum in Europe at the time, highlights the important and complex role played by volunteers, underscores the impact these events had on those who became witnesses to such atrocities, and serves as an active critique of the governments that allowed human rights violations to occur just a few years ago, which remain unpunished to this day. A moving film that educates not only about the events but also about empathy, opening the eyes of even the most reluctant viewers and undoubtedly capable of stirring minds fiercely. No matter the black and white we see in people, no matter the light we miss seeing, the viewer will resonate with the movie and the red blood in their hands.

The award ceremony was held on Friday 8 September 2023 at the events room of the Venice Production Bridge, Hotel Excelsior. The prize-giving ceremony was attended by Fabrizio Marrella (pro-rector of international relations at Ca’ Foscari University), Alessandra Speciale (project manager of Final Cut Venezia), Intishal Al Tamimi (director of Elgouna Film Festival), Teresa Cavina (consultant Giornate degli autori and various international festivals), Paolo De Grandis (creator of the external pavilions of La Biennale di Venezia), Flavio Natalia (director of Ciak magazine), moderated by Antonio Falduto (UNIMED Award artistic director).

The two prizes were created by the artists Miresi and “Bronze brothers” Anastasia Aladysheva – Arsenty Lysenkov, selected by curators Paolo De Grandis and Carlotta Scarpa.

The UNIMED Award is the result of the collaboration between UNIMED – Mediterranean Universities Union – and la Biennale di Venezia. The award, now in its seventh edition, was established in memory of Prof. Franco Rizzi, former Secretary General and founder of UNIMED, for his life-long and career-long commitment to improving cooperation between Euro-Mediterranean universities.

The UNIMED Award aims to promote understanding between peoples of different cultures and religious faiths and to combat racism and discrimination by addressing the complex causes of violence and supporting conflict resolution. The purpose of the UNIMED Award is to encourage intercultural dialogue, emphasise the value of cultural diversity and promote freedom of artistic expression.

If you are curious about the UNIMED Award and its previous editions visit the official page of the initiative.

The jurors of the seventh edition:

  • Selena Faenza, International University of Rome, Italy
  • Francesca Iannini, International University of Rome, Italy
  • Giulia Nicoletti, International University of Rome, Italy
  • Elia Frontoni, Ca’ Foscari University, Italy
  • Eleonora Casi, Ca’ Foscari University, Italy
  • Wardeh Daibes, University of Pavia, Italy
  • Martina Vulpitta, University of Salento, Italy
  • Agnese Stefanelli, University of Salento, Italy
  • Laura Cossu, Polytechnic of Turin, Italy
  • Isabella Alasotto, Polytechnic of Turin, Italy
  • Jood Aladwan, Applied Sciences University, Jordan
  • Raghad Abusaif, Applied Sciences University, Jordan
  • Bland Ali, Duhok Polytechnic University, Iraq
  • Farhad Omar, Duhok Polytechnic University, Iraq
  • Ahmad Zuod, Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie, Palestine
  • Marina Francisco Culla, University of Barcellona, Spain
  • Pau Peidro Vancells, University of Barcellona, Spain
  • María Juárez Muñoz, University of Murcia, Spain
  • Lucia Antón Raya, University of Murcia, Spain