New works by Darren Aronofsky, Andrew Dominik, Alejandro J. Iñárritu, Luca Guadagnino, Joanna Hogg and Laura Poitras are among the rich roster of titles that will launch from the Lido and compete for a Golden Lion at the upcoming Venice Film Festival, which is set for a standout stellar 79th edition.
Artistic director Alberto Barbera has unveiled a luscious, politically infused lineup comprising a slew of hotly anticipated pics from the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, featuring scores of stars.
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Olivia Wilde, Penelope Cruz, Ana de Armas, Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet, Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Christoph Waltz, Sigourney Weaver and Mia Goth are just some top talents now expected to be on the Palazzo Del Cinema’s red carpet during the Aug. 31-Sept. 10 event. Chris Rock may be coming to Venice to promote a short titled “Look at Me” directed by Sally Potter.
But fest director Alberto Barbera at the presser made it clear that he has a lot more on his mind than sparking paparazzi and fan frenzies on the Lido.
“It’s often said that film festivals are a window on the world,” said Barbera, noting that “From this window we are witnessing things that we would rather not see, such as the war of aggression on Ukraine.”
Barbera added that he and the Venice team are also horrified by the arrests in Iran and the incarceration “for no reason” of filmmakers, Jafar Panahi Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Al-Ahmad, “guilty only of having exercised their right to freedom of expression,” he noted. He also denounced the incarceration in Turkey of producer Cigdem Mater, “who is guilty only of having planned a doc — that was never made — on the 2013 Gezi Park anti-government protests,” Barbera said.
Aronofsky, a Venice aficionado whose “Black Swan” was the Lido’s opener in 2010, is back with “The Whale,” an adaptation of Samuel D. Hunter’s play about a morbidly obese recluse, played by Brendan Fraser and also starring Sadie Sink and Samantha Morton.
Meanwhile, Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe drama “Blonde” starring de Armas as the Hollywood icon is one of four Netflix original films in the 23-title competition section.
Also getting a Venice launch from the streaming giant — which is clearly gunning for more Oscars after “Power of the Dog,” which premiered on the Lido last year — is the fest’s previously announced opener, Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise,” with Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver and Jodie Turner-Smith, which is based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Don DeLillo. “White Noise” marks the first time a Netflix film has landed in Venice’s opening slot.
As anticipated by Variety, other Netflix originals in the Venice competition are Iñárritu’s “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths,” which chronicles the story of a Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker who returns home and works through an existential crisis as he grapples with his identity and family relationships, and Romain Gavras’ modern tragedy “Athena,” co-written by the French “The World is Yours” director with “Les Miserables” filmmaker Ladj Ly.
Netflix will also be bowing Nicholas Winding Refn’s “neon-noir “Copenhagen Cowboy” TV series, which will screen out of competition during the second half of the festival.
Guadagnino, who first made a splash in Venice with Tilda Swinton-starrer “I Am Love,” is back on the Lido with “Bones and All” featuring “Call Me By Your Name” star Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell as cannibal lovers on a road trip across America in the 1980s. “Bones” is from Amazon-owned MGM.
Amazon is also bowing its first Argentinian original film from Venice, the political drama “Argentina, 1985,” directed by auteur Santiago Mitre whose “Paulina” and “The Summit” went to Cannes. “1985” is the true story of how public prosecutor Julio Strassera, a young lawyer, and his inexperienced legal team dared to prosecute the heads of Argentina’s bloody military dictatorship in a battle against odds and a race against time, braving bomb and death threats.
Elsewhere, Florian Zeller’s “The Son,” from Sony, which segues from the director’s Oscar-winning “The Father” and stars Vanessa Kirby, Laura Dern and Hugh Jackman, is also vying for a Golden Lion, as is Wales-set “The Eternal Daughter” starring Tilda Swinton, which is directed by her old friend, “The Souvenir” helmer Joanna Hogg.
Focus Features will be on the Lido with Todd Field’s “Tár,” which teams the “In the Bedroom” director with Cate Blanchett as the fictional Lydia Tár, one of the world’s greatest conductors and the first female conductor of a major German orchestra. Blanchett is a Venice regular who presided over the festival’s main jury in 2020.
Searchlight has Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees Of Inisherin,” the Irish director’s follow-up to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” “Banshees” centers on the dynamics of lifelong friends on a remote Irish island and reunites McDonagh with his “In Bruges” stars Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell.
Oscar winner Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour”) is in competition with her new under-the-radar documentary titled “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” about photographer Nan Goldin’s battle against the notorious big-pharma Sackler family. Also competing is veteran documentary master Frederik Wiseman who will bow narrative film ”A Couple,” his collaboration with French multi-hyphenate Nathalie Boutefeu, about Leo Tolstoy and his wife.
Hollywood titles bowing in Venice’s out-of-competition section comprise steamy psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling” which is Olivia Wilde’s second directorial effort and stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, from Warner Bros. Wilde, who also stars in “Don’t Worry,” will be on the Lido with Styles, Pugh and their co-stars Gemma Chan (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and Chris Pine (“All the Old Knives”).
Among other Venice out-of-competition bows are the A24 slasher film “Pearl” by cult U.S. director Ti West, starring Mia Goth, and serving as a prequel to his film “X” about a group of amateur filmmakers making a porno in ’70s Texas.
Walter Hill is in the section with his Western “Dead For a Dollar” starring Christoph Waltz as a bounty hunter and also featuring turns by Willem Dafoe and Rachel Brosnahan. Elsewhere, Paul Schrader, who is being honored on the Lido with the 2022 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, will bring his new feature “The Master Gardener.” “Gardener” tells the story of horticulturist Narvel Roth, played by Joel Edgerton, who tends to a beautiful Louisiana estate owned by a wealthy widow played by Sigourney Weaver. Things take a dark turn when the widow’s troubled great niece arrives on the scene.
U.S. director Bill Pohlad will be launching his indie biopic “Dreamin’ Wild,” about real-life musical duo Donnie and Joe Emerson and the tumult that followed the success of their self-recorded pop-funk album of the same name. It stars Casey Affleck, Zooey Deschanel and Walton Goggins.
“Living,” a re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa’s classic meaning-of-life story directed by Oliver Hermanus and written by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro, who is a Venice juror, is the only film in the selection that is not a world premiere, said Barbera, who noted that the film bowed at virtual Sundance in January. Adapted from Kurosawa’s 1952 film “Ikiru,” “Living” takes place in 1950s Great Britain and follows a veteran civil servant portrayed by Nighy.
Israeli-American director Evgeny Afineevsky, who was in Venice in 2015 with “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” is now back with “Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom.”
Late South Korean auteur Kim Ki-Duk’s posthumously edited work “Call of God,” which is a three-way co-production between Estonia, Kirghizistan, and Lettonia, is also ensconced in an out-of-competition berth.
Besides “Copenhagen Cowboy,” this year Venice will premiere another TV series by a name auteur, the third and final instalment in Lars von Trier’s cult “The Kingdom” TV series trilogy, set in the neurosurgical ward of Denmark’s main hospital.
Back to the competition, similar to Cannes, Iran has a strong Lido presence with four films across the selection. Among them is a new film from recently re-incarcerated auteur Jafar Panahi, whose drama “No Bears” reportedly interweaves two parallel love stories both thwarted by obstacles that reflect life in Iran these days. Also screening is “Beyond The Wall” by Vahid Jalilvand whose “No Date, No Signature” was in Venice Horizons in 2017.
Italian director Andrea Pallaoro is looking to be lionized with his Ohio-set English-language drama “Monica” starring transgender actor Trace Lysette (“Transparent”) as a woman who returns home to the Midwest to care for her dying mother, played by Patricia Clarkson.
Also from Italy, Emanuele Crialese (“Respiro”) will be on the Lido with Penelope Cruz-starrer “L’Immensità,” a family drama set in 1970s Rome in which Cruz plays the mother of a twelve-year-old named Clara who wants to be a boy.
And Susanna Nicchiarelli is back in competition with her new film “Chiara,” featuring “My Brilliant Friend” star Margherita Mazzucco as the 13th century Saint Clare of Assisi which will conclude the director’s trilogy of female biopics also comprising “Nico, 1988” and “Miss Marx.”
And competing from Italy is Gianni Amelio’s “Il Signore Delle Formiche,” a biopic of Italian poet, playwright and director Aldo Braibanti, who was jailed in 1968 due to a Fascist-era anti-gay law, starring Elio Germano and Luigi Lo Cascio.
Competing from Asia is Japanese director Koji Fukada’s “Love Life,” which follows a happily married woman who decides to care for her son’s long-lost father when he reappears, deaf, ill and homeless.
The five-title strong French competition contingent comprises Rebecca Zlotowski’s drama “Les Enfants Des Autres” (“Other People’s Children”), about making a connection with a child that isn’t your own, and stars Virginie Efira, Roschdy Zem and Chiara Mastroianni; Alice Diop’s fiction feature debut “Saint Omer,” based on the true story of a Senegalese woman accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter by abandoning her to the rising tide on a beach in northern France (this is the only debut in the section); and Roschdy Zem’s family dynamics drama “Our Ties” with a cast comprising Maïwenn.
Opening Venice’s Horizons section will be Italian director Roberto De Paolis’ “Princess,” about a young African woman who is a victim of the sex trade.
Other highlights in the Lido’s more cutting-edge parallel competitive section include Penelope Cruz-starrer “On The Fringe,” an economic crisis-themed drama by Juan Diego Botto; French director Jean-Paul Salomé’s thriller “The Sitting Duck”; and “Innocence,” a new doc by Oscar-nommed Israeli filmmaker Guy David (“5 Broken Cameras”).
The fest’s closer is “The Hanging Sun,” an English-language adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s bestselling novel “Midnight Sun,” set in Norway, directed by Italy’s Francesco Carrozzini, and starring Peter Mullan, Charles Dance, and Alessandro Borghi. Pic is produced by Sky Studios with ITV-owned Cattleya and Groenlandia.
As previously announced, Julianne Moore will preside over the main jury which also includes French director Audrey Diwan, winner of last year’s Venice Golden Lion for abortion drama “Happening”; Iranian actor Leila Hatami who broke out globally with Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation”; British author and screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro (“Never Let Me Go”); Italian director Leonardo di Costanzo, in Venice last year with prison drama “The Inner Cage”; Argentina’s Mariano Cohn, also in Venice last year with comedy “Official Competition”; and Spanish director and producer Rodrigo Sorogoyen.
The 79th edition of Venice will run Aug. 31-Sept. 10.
VENICE FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP
“White Noise,” Noah Baumbach (U.S.) – Opening Film
“Il Signore Delle Formiche,” Gianni Amelio (Italy)
“The Whale,” Darren Aronofsky (U.S.)
“L’Immensità,” Emanuele Crialese (Italy)
“Saint Omer,” Alice Diop (France)
“Blonde,” Andrew Dominik (U.S.)
“TÁR,” Todd Field (U.S.)
“Love Life,” Kôji Fukada (Japan, France)
“Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Mexico)
“Athena,” Romain Gavras (France)
“Bones and All,” Luca Guadagnino (U.S.)
“The Eternal Daughter,” Joanna Hogg (U.K.)
“Beyond The Wall,” Vahid Jalilvand (Iran)
“The Banshees of Inisherin,” Martin McDonagh (U.K., U.S.)
“Argentina, 1985,” Santiago Mitre (Argentina, U.S.)
“Chiara,” Susanna Nicchiarelli (Italy)
“Monica,” Andrea Pallaoro (Italy)
“No Bears,” Jafar Panahi (Iran)
“All The Beauty and The Bloodshed,” Laura Poitras (U.S.)
“A Couple,” Frederick Wiseman (U.S.)
“The Son,” Florian Zeller (U.K.)
“Our Ties,” Roschdy Zem (France)
“Other People’s Children,” Rebecca Zlotowski (France)
OUT OF COMPETITION – Fiction
“The Hanging Sun,” Francesco Carrozzini (Italy) – Closing Film
“When The Waves Are Gone,” Lav Diaz (Philippines, France, Portugal, Denmark)
“Living,” Oliver Hermanus (U.K.)
“Dead For a Dollar,” Walter Hill (U.S.)
“Call Of God,” Kim Ki-duk (Estonia, Kirighistan, Lettonia)
“Dreamin’ Wild,” Bill Pohlad (U.S.)
“Master Gardener,” Paul Schrader (U.S.)
“Siccitá,” Paolo Virzì (Italy)
“Pearl,” Ti West (U.S.)
“Don’t Worry Darling,” Olivia Wilde (U.S.)
OUT OF COMPETITION – Non-Fiction
“Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom,” Evgeny Afineevsky (Ukraine, U.K., U.S.)
“The Matchmaker,” Benedetta Argentieri (Italy)
“Gli Ultimi Giorni Dell’Umanità,” Enrico Ghezzi, Alessandro Gagliardo (Italy)
“A Compassionate Spy,” Steve James (U.S.)
“Music For Black Pigeons,” Jørgen Leth, Andreas Koefoed (Denmark)
“The Kiev Trial,” Sergei Loznitsa (The Netherlands, Ukraine)
“In Viaggio,” Gianfranco Rosi (Italy)
“Bobi Wine Ghetto President,” Christopher Sharp, Moses Bwayo (Uganda, U.K., U.S.)
“Nuclear,” Oliver Stone (U.S.)
Magnus Nordenhof Jønck
OUT OF COMPETITION – Series
“The Kingdom Exodus” (Episodes 1-5), Lars Von Trier (Denmark)
“Copenhagen Cowboy” (Episodes 1-6), Nicholas Winding Refn (Denmark)
“Princess,” Roberto De Paolis (Italy) – Opening Film
“Victim,” Michal Blasko (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany)
“On The Fringe,” Juan Diego Botto (Spain)
“Trenque Lauquen,” Laura Citarella (Argentina, Germany)
“Vera,” Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel (Austria)
“Innocence,” Guy Davidi (Denmark, Israel, Finland, Iceland) – Documentary
“Blanquita,” Fernando Guzzoni (Chile, Mexico)
“For My Country,” Rachid Hami (France, Taiwan)
“A Man,” Key Ishikawa (Japan)
“Bread and Salt,” Damian Kocur (Poland)
“Luxembourg, Luxembourg,” Antonio Lukich (Ukraine)
“Ti Mangio il Cuore,” Pippo Mezzapesa (Italy)
“To The North,” Mihai Mincan (Romania, France, Greece, Bulgaria, Czech Republic)
“Autobiography,” Makbul Mubarak (France, Germany, Qatar)
“The Sitting Duck,” Jean-Paul Salomé (France)
“World War III,” Houman Seyiedi (Iran)
“The Happiest Man in the World,” Teona Strugar Mitevska (Bosnia, Belgium, Denmark)
“The Bride,” Sergio Trefaut (Portugal)
“Origin of Evil,” Sébastien Marnier
“Hanging Gardens,” Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji
“Amanda,” Carolina Cavalli
“Red Shoes,” Carlos Eichelmann Kaiser
“Nezouh,” Soudade Kaadan
“Notte Fantasma,” Fulvio Risuleo
“Without Her,” Arian Vazirdaftari
“Valeria Is Getting Married,” Michael Vinik
“Goliath,” Adilkhan Yerzhanov
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