It seems the jury at the Venice Film Festival liked The Master way too much.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the jury, led by American filmmaker Michael Mann, was set to award the Golden Lion, the festival's top prize, to the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed feature, but because of a quirk in the festival's rules has decided to give the award instead to Korean director Kim Ki-duk's Pieta.
The awards are being announced Saturday in Venice.
Apparently during the jury's first deliberations members decided to give The Master the top prize, as well as the Silver Lion directing award to Anderson and the acting award jointly to co-stars Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. (Another international critics prize was also heaped on Master.)
But new festival rules apparently prohibit one film from garnering more than two major awards, so the jury was asked to re-deliberate to remove one of the award. After what a source described as a heated session, the jury decided to take the Golden Lion away from Master and give it to Pieta.
The last-minute shift isn't entirely surprising for the world's oldest film festival, which has a history of rewarding odd films and making peculiar decisions. The new rules are said to have been instituted recently. Alberto Barbera took over as artistic director this year from Marco Mueller.
The filmmakers have been informed of the change, according to a source. A call to Barbera was not immediately returned.