VENICE, Italy — An Iranian film about the tough life women face in that Islamic country took the top prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.
"The Circle" (Dayereh), which won the Golden Lion award, was a popular favorite after it was screened at the festival, which began Aug. 30.
It is 40-year-old director Jafar Panahi's third feature film. His 1995 "The White Balloon" (Badkonake Sefid) and 1997 "The Mirror" (Ayneh) have won several international awards.
"The Circle" tells the story of eight Iranian women struggling with the restrictions their society places on them because they are women. The opening scene shows a woman giving birth to a child unwanted because she is female.
"I come from Iran, an ancient country . . . , a country with people who love life, persons who inspire my films," the director said as he clutched his prize, a statuette of a golden lion.
In earlier comments about the movie, Panahi said he decided to make the movie after noticing a small newspaper article about a woman who committed suicide after killing her two young daughters.
The freedom of women in Iran, he has written in the past, "is limited to the point where it seems as if they are in a big prison."
Another film well-received at Venice was an Italian work, "100 Steps" (I Cento Passi). The film tells the story of a young Sicilian, Giuseppe Impastato, who boldly challenged a Mafia boss and was slain. Director Marco Tullio Giordana paid tribute to the young man's mother as he received the award Saturday night for best screenplay.