H’w’d depth in Venice

After quiet Cannes, Brits set to make small comeback

List of Competitors
ROME — Venice Intl. Film Festival chief Alberto Barbera has assembled an eclectic mix of international titles, new work from established arthouse auteurs, and esoteric fare from little-known filmmakers for the newly restructured 58th annual festival, running Aug. 29-Sept. 8.

While the hefty profile enjoyed by studio fare in Venice during much of the 1990s seems a thing of the past, the U.S. majors are well represented, primarily out of competition.

Warners is present with Steven Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” David Mamet’s “Heist” and Antoine Fuqua’s “Training Day”; Fox will be on hand with Albert and Allen Hughes’ “From Hell”; Columbia weighs in with “John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars”; and perennial Venice favorite Woody Allen returns with “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion,” which DreamWorks has in the U.S.

Indie productions from the U.S. selected for competition include Larry Clark’s “Bully,” Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life” and Jill Sprecher’s “13 Conversations About One Thing.”

Also competing is Cruise/Wagner’s Spanish/U.S. production “The Others,” directed by Alejandro Amenabar and starring Nicole Kidman, which goes out through Miramax in the U.S.

Brits back

After being entirely absent from this year’s Cannes fest selection, Brit productions will make a small comeback at Venice, with Miramax’s long-stalled “Birthday Girl,” directed by Jez Butterworth and also starring Kidman, premiering out of competition alongside “Lucky Break,” Peter Cattaneo’s first feature since “The Full Monty.”

Competition selections from the U.K. include Ken Loach’s drama of South Yorkshire railway workers, “The Navigators”; Sandra Goldbacher’s story of the friendship between two girls over three decades, “Me Without You”; and German-U.K. co-production “Invincible,” Werner Herzog’s retelling of the true story of a Jewish fairground strongman.

The festival opens with the British-Italian-German-Macedonian co-production “Dust,” a Balkan Western starring Joseph Fiennes and David Wenham.

Director Milcho Manchevski returns out of competition to Venice after taking the Golden Lion in 1994 for his debut feature, “Before the Rain.”

Leaner look

As previously announced, the overhauled event has been considerably streamlined, with the main competition split in two to focus attention more evenly throughout the program.

Classical narratives and consolidated filmmaking styles have been slotted into the principal Venezia 58 competition, while more risky fare screens in the cutting-edge Cinema of the Present section, each judged by a separate jury.

But on paper at least, the boundaries between the two competitions appear blurred, with both established names and newcomers figuring in each lineup.

“This year we’ve attempted to find an equilibrium between widely talked-about and anticipated films and lesser-known titles that can provide a few surprises,” says fest director Alberto Barbera.

“Our aim was to expand the festival’s gaze as widely as possible to avoid being merely a preview forum for films already destined for commercial exposure, and instead to function as a laboratory for the exploration of new filmmaking terrain.”

Stars expected to attend the festival include Jude Law and Haley Joel Osment for “A.I.,” Helen Hunt and Charlize Theron for “Jade Scorpion,” Denzel Washington for “Training Day,” Johnny Depp for “From Hell,” Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito for “Heist,” Joseph Fiennes for “Dust,” Mira Sorvino and Ben Kingsley for Clare Peploe’s period piece “The Triumph of Love,” Tim Roth for “Invincible” and Samantha Morton for “Eden.”

Principal section lineups follow:

58th Venice Intl. Film Festiva

Title, Director (Country)

The Others
, Alejandro Amenabar (Spain/U.S.)
Quem es tu?, Joao Botelho (Portugal)
Red Moon, Antonio Capuano (Italy)
Hollywood Hong Kong, Fruit Chan (Hong Kong)
Bully, Larry Clark (U.S.)
And Your Mother Too, Alfonso Cuaron (Mexico)
Wild Innocence, Philippe Garrel (France/Netherlands)
Eden, Amos Gitai (France/Italy/Israel)
Address Unknown, Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)
Waking Life, Richard Linklater (U.S.)
The Navigators, Ken Loach (U.K./Germany/Spain)
Monsoon Wedding, Mira Nair (India)
How Harry Became a Tree, Goran Paskaljevic (Ireland/Italy/U.K./France)
Void Votes, Babak Payami (Iran/Italy)
The Triumph of Love, Clare Peploe (Italy/U.K.)
Light of My Eyes, Giuseppe Piccioni (Italy)
L’Apres-midi d’un tortionnaire, Lucian Pintilie (Romania/France)
Behind the Sun, Walter Salles (Brazil/Switzerland/France)
Hundstage, Ulrich Seidl (Austria)
Far Away, Andre Techine (France/Spain)

Love Probably, Giuseppe Bertolucci (Italy/Switzerland)
Sons, Marco Bechis (Italy)
Sisters, Sergei Bodrov (Russia)
Time Out, Laurent Cantet (France)
Me Without You, Sandra Goldbacher (U.K.)
Invincible, Werner Herzog (Germany/U.K.)
Larger Than Life, Jeffrey Jeturian (Philippines)
Tirana Year Zero, Fatmir Koci (Albania/France/Belgium)
Imperfect Love, Giovanni Davide Maderna (Italy)
The Souffle, Damien Odoul (France)
Fifi Martingale, Jacques Rozier (France)
Harmful Insect, Akihiko Shiota (Japan)
Flower Island, Song Il-gon (South Korea/France)
L’Uomo in piu, Paolo Sorrentino (Italy)
13 Conversations About One Thing, Jill Sprecher (U.S.)
Reines d’un jour, Marion Vernoux (France)
Water and Salt, Teresa Villaverde (Portugal/Italy)
Saturday, Juan Villegas (Argentina)
La Fiebre del loco, Andres Wood (Chile/Spain/Mexico)
Quitting, Zhang Yang (China)

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Woody Allen (U.S.)
Birthday Girl, Jez Butterworth (U.K.)
John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars, John Carpenter (U.S.)
Lucky Break, Peter Cattaneo (U.K.)
Training Day, Antoine Fuqua (U.S.)
From Hell, Albert & Allen Hughes (U.S.)
Tosca, Benoit Jacquot (France/Italy/Germany/U.K.)
Heist, David Mamet (U.S.)
Fausto 5.0, Isidro Ortiz & La Fura dels Baus (Spain)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Steven Spielberg (U.S.)

Dust, Milcho Manchevski (U.K./Italy/Germany/Macedonia)

Cet Amour la, Josee Dayan (France)
Asoka, Santosh Sivan (India)

The Lady and the Duke, Eric Rohmer (France)

Silence… On tourne!, Youssef Chahine (Egypt)
Porto da minha infancia, Manoel de Oliveira (Portugal)
Pistol Opera, Seijun Suzuki (Japan)

Rasganco, Raquel Branco & Rodrigues Freire (Portugal)
Smoking Carriage, Veronica Chen (Argentina)
Rain, Katherine Lindberg (Spain/Germany/U.S.)
Brother, Yan Yan Mak (Hong Kong)
Going Home, Vincenzo Marra (Italy)
An Adolescent, Eiji Okuda (Japan)
A Moment of Happiness, Antoine Santana (France)

Nanni Moretti, director (Italy) – President
Amitav Ghosh, writer (India)
Jerzy Skolimowski, director (Poland)
Jeanne Balibar, actress (France)
Vibeke Windelov, producer (Denmark)

Shiguehiko Hasumi, Cahiers du Cinema (Japan) – President
Piera Detassis, Ciak (Italy)
Emanuel Levy, Screen Intl. (U.S.)
Gavin Smith, Film Comment (U.S.)
Michel Ciment, Positif (France)

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