From Cruz to Blanchett: Venice serves up film festival stars

·3-min read

The Venice Film Festival will welcome stars from Penelope Cruz to Cate Blanchett and host world premieres from directors Darren Aronofsky, Alejandro Inarritu and Luca Guadagnino, organisers said Tuesday.

A total of 23 movies are in competition for the Golden Lion, the top prize awarded to the best film on the final day of the "Mostra", the prestigious festival on the glitzy Venice Lido running from August 31 to September 10.

Calling the 79th annual festival an "open window on the world", Artistic Director Alberto Barbera, during his online presentation, denounced the arrest of three filmmakers in Iran earlier this month which sparked condemnation across the international film community.

One of them, award-winning dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi, 62, will be competing this year at Venice with his film "Khers Nist" ("Bears Do Not Exist"), in which he also acts.

Panahi, who was ordered last week by a court to serve a six-year sentence for "propaganda against the system" originally handed down in 2010, won the Golden Lion in 2000 for "The Circle", a critique of women's treatment in Iran.

This year's red carpet should see no shortage of stars, with Julianne Moore presiding over the jury, and top talents Hugh Jackman, Timothee Chalamet, Don Cheadle and Colin Farrell all starring in films in competition.

Spain's Penelope Cruz -- who won Venice's best actress award last year for her work in "Parallel Mothers" -- returns in "Immensity", a family drama set in 1970s Rome by Italy's Emanuele Crialese.

Australian star Cate Blanchett is also expected to attend, for her work playing an orchestra conductor in "Tar", the third feature by US director Todd Field.

- Fictionalised Marilyn Monroe -

This year also marks the return of US director Aronofsky with "The Whale", a psychological drama in which Brendan Fraser plays an obese writer seeking to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

Aronofsky is 2008's Golden Lion winner for "The Wrestler", about a down-and-out fighter that won raves for lead actor Mickey Rourke.

"The collapse of the American Dream," said Barbera, is the theme of the highly anticipated "Bones and All" by Italian director Guadagnino. Starring Timothee Chalamet, Mark Rylance and Chloe Sevigny, the film follows a young woman and drifter confronting their cannibalism on a cross-country road trip.

A "most personal" film in the main competition, said Barbera, is "Bardo: The False Chronicle of some Truths" by Mexico's Inarritu, in which a journalist suffers an existential crisis.

British actress Tilda Swinton appears in mystery-drama "The Eternal Daughter" by Joanna Hogg, while Farrell plays one of two longtime Irish friends in "The Banshees of Inisherin" by Martin McDonagh.

In the biopic genre is "Blonde", Andrew Dominik's fictionalised look at Marilyn Monroe adapted from the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, starring Ana de Armas and Adrien Brody.

Nan Goldin, the US photographer and activist, is the focus of Laura Poitras' "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed", about the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Noah Baumbach's "White Noise", based on the 1985 Don DeLillo novel and starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, will open the competition in Venice.

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