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Venice Golden Lion for Alexander Sokurov's Faust

image captionSokurov appealed for governments to continue funding the arts

Russian director Alexander Sokurov's take on the German legend Faust has won the film a Golden Lion - the top award at the Venice Film Festival.

The classic tale explores the corrupting nature of power as scholar Faust sells his soul to the devil.

German-born Irish actor Michael Fassbender was named best actor for playing a sex addict in British director Steve McQueen's Shame.

The best actress award went to Hong Kong's Deanie Yip in A Simple Life.

Best actor

Fassbender, 34, previously worked with McQueen in the filmmaker's Bafta-winning debut feature Hunger, playing jailed IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

image captionFassbender recently starred in X-Men: First Class

Accepting his acting honour, he said: "It's just really nice when you take chance and you do something that you think is relevant - you hope is relevant - and people respond the way they did."

Fassbender also starred in another Venice competition film - David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method - in which he plays psychoanalyst Carl Jung.

The film will show at the London Film Festival next month.

Golden Lion winner Faust was praised by US director Darren Aronofsky - head of the Venice jury - who presented the award.

He said: "There are some films that make you cry, there are some films that make you laugh, there are some films that change you forever after you see them; and this is one of them."

At a news conference following the award ceremony, Sokurov appealed for governments to continue funding the arts.

"Culture is not a luxury! It is the basis for the development of the society," he said.

More on this story

  • Fassbender becomes talk of Venice