A bevy of American pics, including 11 world preems, will unspool at the 63rd Venice Film Festival.
Among five Yank entries vying for the Golden Lion is “The Fountain,” Darren Aronofsky’s romantic fantasy, which Warner Bros. is believed to have pulled from Cannes earlier this year for lack of a Croisette competish slot.
The other U.S. titles looking to be Lionized are “Hollywoodland,” the directorial debut of TV producer-helmer Allen Coulter (“The Sopranos”), from Focus Features; Alfonso Cuaron sci-fier “Children of Men” and Brian De Palma’s “The Black Dahlia,” both from Universal; and “Bobby,” Emilio Estevez’s depiction of the night Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, from the Weinstein Co. and MGM.
“Children of Men,” which stars Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine, is skedded for a Stateside release Sept. 15. Pic, set in a world in which man can no longer procreate, is a U.S.-U.K. co-production.
As previously announced, De Palma’s James Ellroy adaptation will open the fest Sept. 30, with stars Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank and Josh Hartnett expected on the Lido. Key cast for most pics unspooling are expected to come tubthumping.
U.S. fare scattered throughout other Lido sections includes “The Devil Wears Prada”; Ethan Hawke’s “The Hottest State,” based on his novel; Neil LaBute’s “The Wicker Man,” starring Nicolas Cage, who is also in Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center”; and David Lynch’s mystery “Inland Empire,” with Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons and Harry Dean Stanton.
Lynch will receive the Golden Lion for career achievement at the fest, which runs Aug. 30-Sept. 9.
Warner Independent’s Truman Capote biopic “Infamous” will open the Venice Horizon’s sidebar dedicated to cutting-edge cinema. Set during the writer’s “In Cold Blood” period, pic by U.S. helmer-scribe Douglas McGrath stars British thesp Toby Jones as Capote and Sandra Bullock as author Harper Lee.
“Every single one of the 21 competition entries is a world premiere,” said Venice artistic topper Marco Muller, noting that’s a first in the Lido’s postwar history. Announcement was made at a packed press conference at Rome’s Excelsior Hotel.
Muller and Venice Biennale chief Davide Croff both underlined that Lido pics last year garnered 23 Oscar noms, with Muller claiming that among major fests, only Venice — thanks to its intimate atmosphere and slim 62-pic lineup — can give films “that special glow and affection that gives them extra visibility.”
A record high of 1,429 features were submitted this year, some 300 more than last year. Pics come from 27 countries, compared with 18 in 2005.
The Republic of Chad, at the heart of the African continent, is on the Lido for the first time with “Daratt,” a drama about the consequences of civil war helmed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (“Bye Bye Africa”), in competish. “We are very proud that Africa is back in competition,” Muller said.
Thailand also is debuting on the Lido, with competition pic “Syndromes and a Century,” by arthouse darling Apichatpong Weerasethakul (“Tropical Malady”).
Asia, as always with Muller, features prominently, including six films from Japan and three from China. In the competish are Kon Satoshi’s Japanese manga pic “Paprika”; Otomo Katsuhiro’s live-action manga “Mushi-shi,” also from Japan; “Fangzhu,” from Hong Kong genre meister Johnnie To; and “Hei Yanquan,” the latest from prolific Taiwan-based auteur Tsai Ming-Liang (“The Wayward Cloud”).
Leading the 10-pic Italo pack are Gianni Amelio’s China-set “The Missing Star” and Emanuele Crialese’s Ellis Island immigration drama “The Golden Door,” in competition. Both are from RAI Cinema.
Veteran helmer Vittorio De Seta’s “Letters From the Sahara,” a digitally shot docudrama about the tribulations of an African immigrant in Italy, will unspool as a special event.
De Seta was honored in June by a retro at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Italo visual artist Mimmo Paladino’s first feature, the quixotic “Quijote,” will close the Horizons section.
Blighty brings Miramax’s Stephen Frears-helmed “The Queen,” about the squabble between Prime Minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death, in competish.
Kenneth Branagh’s Mozart opera adaptation “The Magic Flute” will preem as a gala event in Venice’s La Fenice theater on Sept. 7.
Gaul has two pics looking to be Lionized: Alain Resnais’ “Private Fears in Public Places,” based on an Alan Ayckbourn play, and “L’Intouchable,” by Benoit Jacquot.
Paul Verhoeven’s return to Dutch-language filmmaking, the war drama “Blackbook,” flies the Netherlands’ flag in competish.
Germany has “Heimat Fragments,” the fourth installment of the cult Edgar Reitz multigenerational saga “Heimat,” unspooling in the Horizons documentary section.
Now at his third year at the Venice helm, Muller said he allowed himself to “explore the field” this time and to “take chances and try new avenues.”
“One-third of the selection is made up of young filmmakers. This gives us an identity that we will uphold,” Muller said.
Among works Muller singled out as being fresh and fun are Polish spaghetti Western “Summer Love” and Iran’s “Baaz ham sib daari,” which he said is in the “Mad Max” vein.
There are 11 first works, from 11 countries, among which is Japanese toon “Tales From the Earthsea,” by Goro Miyazaki, son of anime auteur Hayao Miyakaki, who was celebrated with a career Lion last year.
Closer will be “Ostrov” (The Island), a WWII drama by Russian helmer Pavel Lungin (“Taxi Blues,” “Tycoon”).
Also included are an 18-title “Secret History of Russian Cinema” retrospective sponsored by the Prada Foundation, with pics presented by Nikita Mikhalkov, and a tribute to Brazilian Cinema Novo helmer Joaquim Pedro de Andrade.
Tribute will be paid to Roberto Rossellini’s centennial with unspoolings of the freshly restored classics “Rome Open City” and “General Della Rovere.” Latter will be in the original uncut version that won the 1959 Golden Lion.
U.S. producer Paula Wagner will head the Lion of the Future jury for works by first-time filmmakers, while Teutonic helmer Philip Groening will be the Venice Horizons section jury chief.
The main jury, headed by French actress Catherine Deneuve, comprises U.S. helmer-producer Cameron Crowe, South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook, Spanish helmer Bigas Luna, Portuguese producer Paulo Branco, Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova and Italo thesp-helmer Michele Placido.
63RD ANNUAL VENICE FILM FESTIVAL COMPETITION
“Fallen,” Barbara Albert (Austria)
“The Missing Star,” Gianni Amelio (Italy)
“The Fountain,” Darren Aronofsky (U.S.)
“Hollywoodland,” Allen Coulter (U.S.)
“The Golden Door,” Emanuele Crialese (Italy)
“Children of Men,” Alfonso Cuaron (U.S.)
“The Black Dahlia,” Brian De Palma (U.S.)
“Bobby,” Emilio Estevez (U.S.)
“The Queen,” Stephen Frears (U.K.)
“Daratt,” Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Chad-France-Belgium-Austria)
“L’intouchable,” Benoit Jacquot (France)
“Paprika,” Kon Satoshi (Japan)
“Nue propriete,” Joachim Lafosse (Belgium-Luxembourg-France)
“Mushi-shi,” Otomo Katsuhiro (Japan)
“Private Fears in Public Places,” Alain Resnais (France-Italy)
“Quei loro incontri,” Jean-Marie Straub Daniele Huillet (Italy-France)
“Fangzhu,” Johnnie To (Hong Kong-China)
“Hei yanquan,” Tsai Ming-Liang (Taiwan-France-Austria)
“Blackbook,” Paul Verhoeven (Netherlands-Germany-UK)
“Ejforija,” Ivan Vyrypaev (Russia)
“Sang sattawat,” Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand-France)
OUT OF COMPETITION
“Quelques jours en Septembre,” Santiago Amigorena (France-Italy)
“The Magic Flute,” Kenneth Branagh (U.K.)
“Yeyan,” Feng Xiaogang (China)
“Devil Wears Prada,” David Frenkel (U.S.)
“Ostrov,” Pavel Lounguine (Russia)
“Inland Empire,” David Lynch (U.S.)
“Gedo seki,” Goro Miyazaki (Japan)
“Belle toujours,” Manoel de Oliveira (Portugal)
“World Trade Center,” Oliver Stone (U.S.)
OUT OF COMPETITION MIDNIGHT
“Para entrar a vivir,” Jaume Balaguero (Spain)
“Rob-B-Hood,” Chan Benny (Hong Kong-China)
“Baaz ham sib daari,” Fazli Bayram (Iran)
“Sakebi,” Kurosawa Kiyoshi (Japan)
“The Wicker Man,” Neil Labute (U.S.)
“Jakpae,” Ryoo Seung-wan (South Korea)
“Summer Love,” Piotr Uklansky (Poland)
OUT OF COMPETITION SPECIAL EVENT
“Lettere dal Sahara,” Vittorio De Seta (Italy)
“Suely,” Karim Ainouz (Brazil)
“Koorogi,” Aoyama Shinji (Japan)
“The Hottest State,” Ethan Hawke (U.S.)
“Taiyang yu,” Ho Yuhang (Malesia-Hong Kong)
“Svobodnoe plavanie,” Boros Khlebnikov (Russia)
“El Cobrador,” Paul Leduc (Mexico-Argentina-Brazil)
“Mabei shang de fating,” Liu Jie (China)
“Infamous,” Douglas McGrath (U.S.)
“Opera jawa,” Garin Nugroho (Indonesia)
“Quijote,” Mimmo Paladino (Italy)
“Non prendere inpegni stasera,” Gianluca Tavarelli (Italy)
“Roma wa la n’touma,” (Algeria-France-Germany)
“Ana alati tahmol azour ila qabriha,” Hala Alabdalla YakOub, Ammar Al Beik (Syria-France)
“Bellissime 2,” Giovanna Gagliardo (Italy)
“Dong,” Jia Zhangke (China)
“The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” David Leaf, John Scheinfeld (U.S.)
“When the Leeves Broke. A Requiem in Four Acts,” Spike Lee (U.S.)
“Tachiguishi retsuden,” Oshi Mamoru (Japan)
“Heimat – fragmente,” Edgar Reitz, Christian Reitz (Germany)
“Pasolini prossimo nostro,” Giuseppe Bertolucci (Italy-France)
“Akamas,” Panicos Chrysanthou (Cyprus-Greece-Hungary-Turkey)
“C’est gradiva qui vous appelle,” Alain Robbe-Grillet (France-Belgium)
“Kill Gil (vol. 2),” Gil Rossellini (Italy-Switzerland)
“Il mio paese,” Daniele Vicari (Italy)