Two awards for "Essential Killing"

The creators of

The creators of “Essential Killing”


The 67th Venice International Film Festival came to a close. The Special Jury Prize went to Jerzy Skolimowski’s Essential Killing, a film co-financed by the Polish Film Institute. When accepting the award, Skolimowski thanked Ewa Piaskowska, who co-wrote and co-produced the film.


The Coppa Volpi Best Actor Award went to Vincent Gallo, the American actor who played the lead part in Skolimowski’s feature. Gallo played the role of Mohammed – an Afghan fugitive who escaped from a secret military black site and now seeks recluse in the forest, fleeing from US troops.


Vincent Gallo
Vincent Gallo. Photo by Ivo Ledwożyw


Skolimowski accepted the award in Gallo’s name. “I am sure he wants to thank his director most of all, and the script writer Skolimowski, and the producer who financed his payment Skolimowski”, he quipped.


After the first screenings of Essential Killing, critics praised the all but animal-like acting of Vincent Gallo and the ambiguous atmosphere of the events taking place in the film. “Essential Killing is a challenging film that deals with the difficult issue of life and its value, of death, and of survival,” wrote Silvestro Capurso in his review after the film’s premiere.


Awards of the 67th Venice International Film Festival:

  • Golden Lion for Best Film – Somewhere by Sofia Coppola;

  • Silver Lion for Best Director – Alex De La Iglesia for Balada Triste de trompeta

  • Special Jury Prize – Essential Killing by Jerzy Skolimowski

  • Special Prize for Lifetime Achievement – director Monte Hellman

  • Luigi De Laurentis Award for a Debut Film – Majority by Seren Yüce

  • Coppa Volpi for Best Actress – Ariane Labed for Attenberg

  • Coppa Volpi for Best Actor – Vincent Gallo for Essential Killing

  • Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress – Mila Kunis

After the awards ceremony, Jerzy Skolimowski met with journalists at a press conference. “I am honoured to receive these two awards. I didn’t expect two awards, obviously I was expecting only one,” he joked.


The film was praised by Quentin Tarantino, who chaired this year’s festival jury. “Essential Killing is a painful film that makes an impact; it is very masculine. Excellent photography, excellent directing […] It is great to watch a film shot on 35 mm film. I love it when a movie has a character I don’t like. We don’t like Gallo’s character, but we find ourselves rooting for him. In real life, if we ran into him out there in the snow, he would have killed us. But in movies – and this is why I love movies – what happens is that we follow him with growing interest, even sympathy.”


Skolimowski’s feature also received the non-statutory CinemAvvenire Award of the CinemAvvenire association, who chose Essential Killing as the best film of this year’s Venice Film Festival. As CinemAvvenire explains, “working by subtraction of audiovisual elements, the movie reveals an extraordinary capacity to dramatize the direction, accompanied by an unususal point of view taken by the spectator. The deafness and the absence of any human voice amplify, in an endless echo, a nightmare that deals with struggle for life.


Essential Killing was co-financed by the Polish Film Institute (5 million PLN), and is an international co-production between Poland, Norway, Hungary, and Ireland. Filming took place in Poland, Norway, and Israel.


Translated by Karolina Kołtun