Hard-hitting Israeli war movie ‘Lebanon’ won the Golden Lion for best picture at the Venice film festival.

Director Samuel Maoz shot almost the entire film from inside a tank to communicate the claustrophobia and fear he experienced as a young Israeli conscript during the 1982 war.

He was so traumatised by his memories that it took him 25 years to gather the strength to make the movie, which the New York Times called ‘an astonishing piece of cinema.’

‘I dedicate this award to the thousands of people all over the world who, like me, come back from war safe and sound,’ the director told the audience at the 11-day cinema showcase's glitzy closing ceremony.

Another frontrunner, US director Todd Solondz's dark comedy ‘Life During Wartime’, picked up best screenplay.

Iranian video artist Shirin Neshat won the Silver Lion for best director for ‘Women Without Men’, which chronicles the lives of four women from different walks of life against the backdrop of Iran's foreign-backed coup in 1953.

British actor Colin Firth won best actor as expected for his turn as a gay professor mourning his lover in fashion designer Tom Ford's debut picture ‘A Single Man’, based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood.

Russian Ksenia Rappoport picked up the best actress award for her part in Giuseppe Capotondi's Italian competition entry ‘La Doppia Ora’.

German director Fatih Akin took the special jury prize for comedy ‘Soul Kitchen’, about a young restaurant owner who struggles to keep his business going while maintaining a long-distance relationship and dealing with his criminal brother.

Two prominent US pictures were overlooked - Michael Moore's attack on corporate greed in ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ and ‘The Road’, John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's bleak, post-apocalyptic novel.