The Italian press has criticised the Venice jury president for handing out two major awards to his friends: his ex-girlfriend Sofia Coppola who received the top Golden Lion award, and his mentor Monte Hellman who was given a special career award. Paolo Mereghetti, film critic for Italian daily Corriere della Sera, wrote this morning that “the [jury] presidency of Quentin Tarantino runs the risk of being the most obvious conflict of interest, given that Somewhere and [Hellman’s] Road to Nowhere seemed charming and intriguing but nothing more”. The London critics weren’t particularly wowed when they reviewed Somewhere after its Venice premiere. “For all the similarities, this does not have the brilliant seriocomic moments of Lost In Translation. If that was her hit single, then this is the B-side,” said the Guardian. The London Evening Standard said the film lacked drama. Tarantino has rejected suggestions of awarding his friends. “I wasn’t going to let anything like that affect me at all,” he told reporters after the awards ceremony. “I was just going to literally respond to the film. There was no me steering any direction.” Tarantino said Coppola’s award had been a unanimous jury decision. “It enchanted us from the first,” said Tarantino, “Being her friend didn’t affect me or make me sway the jury in any way. The other members of the jury don’t know her at all. They just loved the film. We kept coming back to it, as one of us said, because ‘it’s a great fucking movie,’ all right?”