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Pieta wins Golden Lion
South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk with his award. Picture: Getty Images

South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk has been awarded the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival for Pieta, about a loan shark whose life is changed by a woman who claims to be his mother.

The Silver Lion for best director went to Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master, inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The film's stars, Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, shared the prize for best actor during the ceremony on Saturday.

The best actress award went to Israeli actress Hadas Yaron, for her role in Fill the Void.

Pieta follows a young loan shark as he goes about his business maiming debtors to collect insurance money.

His ruthless course is interrupted by a stranger who claims to be his mother - and his acceptance of her opens in him a sense of pity for his former victims.