The Italian press has accused film director Quentin Tarantino, who acted as jury president for the Venice Film Festival, of handing out awards to his friends. The festival's top prize, the Golden Lion, went to Sofia Coppola's new movie Somewhere while Alex de la Iglesia's Balada Triste de Trompeta took second prize, the Silver Lion. Coppola once dated the Pulp Fiction director, while de la Iglesia has been described as a "long-time friend." Tarantino has refuted the accusations, adding, "Sofia doesn't know any of these other people on the jury and her prize was unanimous." Did Tarantino really fix the jury? (Watch Tarantino discuss the competition)

These films simply weren't good enough to win: Tarantino's presidency has shown the "most blatant conflict of interest possible," says Corriere della Sera film critic Paolo Mereghetti, quoted in AltFilmGuide. The world's press viewed Somewhere as "charming and interesting, but nothing more."
"Quentin Tarantino faces accusations of favoritism: Venice 2010 controversy"

The charges seem far-fetched: It's almost impossible for a single juror, says Patrick Goldstein at the Los Angeles Times, "even one as passionate as Tarantino," to prod a panel of "independent-minded film nuts" into promoting his pals' movies. More likely, these accusations are "rooted in an inconvenient bit of truth — an unusually large number of Italian productions went home empty-handed" this year.
"Did Quentin Tarantino put the fix in for his pals at the Venice Film Festival?"

These kind of conflicts are inevitable: Major film festivals like Venice "love having prominent actors and directors serving on award juries," says Peter Martin at Cinematical, which makes it "practically impossible to avoid conflicts of interest, especially since jury selection and film selection are carried out independently." Unless festivals forgo the "additional star power and attention to the awards" celebrities jurors bring, these kind of accusations won't go away.
"Sofia Coppola's Venice win for Somewhere causes controversy"