Scarlett Johansson awarded Best Actress prize for role in ‘Her’ by Rome film festival despite not actually appearing in it
Rome’s fledgling film festival has come under fire for awarding a prize to Scarlett Johansson for a film she provides a voice-over for, but does not appear in.
The jury handed the 28-year-old a best actress award for providing the voice for an intuitive computer program in the Spike Jonze film ‘Her‘, which is set in the near future and stars Joaquin Phoenix as a man undergoing a difficult divorce who falls in love with the program.
Although it cannot be argued that Johannson possesses a sultry voice, one of Italy’s foremost film critics has claimed that the prize pointed to “collective madness against the cinema” among jurors.
In a front-page article in Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Paolo Mereghetti wrote: “For the first time a festival has given a prize to an actress who has only lent her voice to a film.”
Numerous Italian critics also pointed out that the Johannson’s award winning voice-over will never be heard by Italian cinema goers because the film will be dubbed into Italian on its release.
Johannson did not attend the prize giving, but sent a message in which she said it was “appropriate” that the jury did not get to give her the award in person. “I thank the jury above all for their ears,” she said.
Mr Mereghetti, who publishes a well known Italian film dictionary, also took issue with the decision to hand the best film award to ‘Tir’, a pretend documentary by Italian Alberto Fasulo about the life on the road of a Croatian lorry driver, which follows the awarding of the best film prize at the Venice film festival in September to ‘Sacro GRA’, an Italian documentary about a ring road around Rome.
Giving awards to Tir and to Johannson, amounted to a “surprising prize giving that risks turning into an own goal” for the festival, he argued.
Despite the criticism, the Rome jurors may have set a precedent in Johannson’s case. Last month, the producer of Her, Megan Ellison, said she would campaign for Johansson to be given an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.
The Rome film festival, which has been going for eight years, has struggled in a packed autumn calendar of rival festivals including Turin and Toronto, but organisers said that this year ticket sales to the public were up 20 per cent to 60,000 tickets.