VENICE, Italy – The Chinese movie "Still Life," set against the backdrop of China's gigantic Three Gorges Dam project, won this year's Golden Lion, the top award at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.
Mirren won for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frear's "The Queen." Affleck won for his role in Allen Coulter's "Hollywoodland," which dramatizes an investigation into the death of George Reeves, star of the 1950s TV show "Adventures of Superman."
The top film award to Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke was a surprise entry late in the festival, and trumped such candidates as Emilio Estevez' "Bobby," about the assassination of Robert Kennedy, and "The Queen," about the week that followed Princess Diana's death.
"Still Life" was shot in the old village of Fengjie, which has been destroyed by the building of the Three Gorges Dam, and tells of people who go back there.
More than 1.13 million Chinese have been relocated to make way for the dam, many of them complaining of bleak prospects in their new homes above the waterline or in other parts of China.
"We were told there would be a surprise film at the end of this festival, and we didn't have a lot of discussion," French actress Catherine Deneuve, who headed the jury that awarded the top prize, told reporters after the ceremony.
"The beauty of the cinematography and the quality of the story, without getting political, the characters, we were very touched and we were very moved," Deneuve added. "We know it's a very special film."