Swedish director Roy Andersson's comedy A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence won the Golden Lion award for best film at the Venice Film Festival.
The offbeat movie was hailed by critics for its moving exploration of what it means to be human.
Andersson told the audience he had been inspired by Italian director Vittorio De Sica's 1948 film Bicycle Thieves.
The film widely tipped for the award - Joshua Oppenheimer's The Look of Silence - won the Grand Jury prize.
US actor Adam Driver won best actor for his portrayal of a father trying to save his baby son's life in Saverio Costanzo's New-York based tale Hungry Hearts.
Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher won best actress for her performance in the same film.