Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler,” Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married,” Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” and Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Burn After Reading” will world preem at the 65th Venice Film Festival alongside eminently ample lineups from Europe and Asia.
Similar to Cannes this year, the Lido’s upcoming edition, which unspools Aug. 27-Sept. 6, is lighter on Yank pics, largely due to a dearth caused by the writers strike.
“One of the effects of the strike is that so many releases of movies that would have been right for Venice have been pushed by the studios to December, or even later,” director Marco Mueller said at a packed press conference in Rome’s Excelsior Hotel on the Via Veneto.
“Very few (studios) were willing to run the risk of piracy by world premiering a movie so many months before its theatrical release,” added the Venice topper, underlining that, with five American pics vying for the Golden Lion, the U.S. presence at the Lido is still strong.
Indeed, despite less of an Anglophone glow, there will be a Hollywood glam quotient in Venice, though Mueller’s Stateside selection has a distinctly indie/auteurish feel.
Bowing on the Lido ahead of North American preems in Toronto are Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married,” a dysfunctional family comedy starring Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt, and Bigelow’s Iraq cat-and-mouse thriller “Hurt Locker,” which stars Ralph Fiennes and was shot in Jordan.
The Toronto Film Festival has upped its rivalry with the Lido this year, managing to shut it out of several other world preems.
Meanwhile, Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler,” with Mickey Rourke as a has-been fighter reuniting with his abandoned family, and Marisa Tomei as a stripper, will have a “wet-print premiere,” joked Venice’s Mueller, who was candid about the fact that he has been running against the clock.
Previously announced, “Babel” scribe Guillermo Arriaga’s multistrand directorial debut “The Burning Plain” stars Charlize Theron as an American woman tormented by a turbulent childhood and Kim Basinger as her mother, as recalled in flashbacks.
Venice’s previously announced opener, from this year’s triple Oscar winners the Coen brothers, is the dark spy comedy “Burn After Reading,” starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton.
The Coens’ latest marks the second consecutive edition of Venice that will open with a title from Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner’s London-based Working Title stable, following “Atonement” last year.
But in another departure from 2007, there is a total lack of films from British helmers on the Lido.
Instead, in a year in which Italy shined at Cannes, with “Gomorrah” and “Il Divo,” Mueller clearly felt compelled to fly the local colors in a big way.
With four Italo pics competing, the large European fleet set to disembark on the Lido dock has the strongest domestic component in ages.
Italo-Argentine helmer Marco Bechis’ “Birdwatchers” looks at tribal extinction in the South American jungle; Turkish-born Italo helmer Ferzan Ozepetek’s drama “Perfect Day” depicts 24 hours in crazed contempo Rome; laffer “Il seme della discordia,” by Neapolitan helmer Pappi Corsicato (“Black Holes”), is about an infertile Italo macho who finds out his wife is pregnant; Pupi Avati’s “Il papa di Giovanna” toplines hot young Italo thesp Alba Rohrwacher (“Days and Clouds”) as a young student who murders a classmate in 1930s Tuscany.
Gaul, as always, makes a strong showing. Directorial duo Patrick Mario Bernard and Pierre Trividic are bringing their Paris-set thriller “L’Autre,” and Barbet Schroeder is coming with “Inju: The Beast in the Shadows,” a Japan-set thriller based on a book by cult noir scribe Edogama Rampo. Claire Denis is back in Venice with “35 Rhums,” about a father (Alex Descas) who has to bring up his daughter alone after his wife commits suicide.
As always with Mueller, the Asian contingent is ample and well assorted.
Takeshi Kitano, a Golden Lion winner in 1997 with his cop drama “Hana-Bi,” is in competish with “Achilles to Kame” (Achilles and the Tortoise), in which he stars as a talentless but dedicated artist.
Also in competish is “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea,” the newest feature toon by Hayao Miyazaki. The venerated and reclusive anime auteur will be on hand.
The competition jury, headed by Wim Wenders, also includes John Landis, Johnnie To, Valeria Golino, Lucrecia Martel, Russian scribe Juriy Arabov and Scottish artist Douglas Gordon.
Heading the Horizons jury is Belgian auteur Chantal Akerman. Tunisian-born helmer Abdelatif Kechiche will head the jury of the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion of the Future.
65TH ANNUAL VENICE FILM FESTIVAL
“Burn After Reading,” Joel and Ethan Cohen, (U.K., U.S.) out-of-competition.
“The Wrestler,” Darren Aronofsky (U.S., France)
“The Burning Plain,” Guillermo Arriaga (U.S.)
“Il Papa di Giovanna,” Pupi Avati (Italy)
“Birdwatchers,” Marco Bechis (Italy)
“The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow (U.S.)
“L’Autre,” Patrick Mario Bernard, Pierre Trividic (France)
“Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow (U.S.)
“Il Seme della discordia,” Pappi Corsicato (Italy)
“Rachel Getting Married,” Jonathan Demme (U.S.)
“Teza,” Haile Gerima (Ethiopia, Germany, France)
“Paper Soldier,” Aleksey German Jr. (Russia)
“Sut,” Semih Kaplanoglu (Turkey, France, Germany)
“Achilles and the Tortoise,” Takeshi Kitano (Japan)
“Ponyo on Cliff by the Sea,” Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)
“Vegas: Based on a True Story,” Amir Naderi (U.S.)
“The Sky Crawlers,” Oshii Mamoru (Japan)
“Perfect Day,” Ferzan Ozpetek (Italy)
“Jerichow,” Christian Petzold (Germany)
“Inju, the Beast in the Shadows,” Barbet Schroeder (France)
“Nuit de Chien,” Werner Schroeter (France, Germany, Portugal)
“Inland,” Tariq Teguia (Algeria, France)
“Plastic City,” Yu Lik-wai (Brazil, China, Hong Kong/China, Japan)
OUT OF COMPETITION
“Puccini e la fanciulla,” Paolo Benvenuti (Italy)
“Yuppi Du,” Adriano Celentano (Italy)
“35 Rhums,” Claire Denis (France, Spain)
“Cry Me a River” (short), Jia Zhangke (China, Spain, France)
“Shirin,” Abbas Kiarostami (Iran)
“Tutto e musica” (1963), Domenico Modugno (Italy)
“Vicino al Colosseo…c’e Monti” (short), Mario Monicelli (Italy)
“Do Visivel ao Invisivel” (short), Manoel de Oliveira (Brazil, Portugal)
“Les Plages d’Agnes” (documentary), Agnes Varda (France)
“Vinyan,” Fabrice Du Welz (France, U.K., Belgium)
“Encarnacao do demonio,” Jose Mojica Marins (Brazil)
“Volare” (1959), Piero Tellini (Italy)
OUT OF COMPETITION — SPECIAL EVENTS
“Bajo el Signo de las Sombras” (documentary) (1984), Ferran Alberich (Spain)
“Vida en Sombras” (1947), Lorenzo Llbobet Gracia (Spain)
“Ketto Takadanobaba” (1937), Masahiro Makino, Hiroshi Inagaki (Japan)
“La Rabbia” (1963) (documentary), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy)
IN COLLABORATION WITH UDINE FAR EAST FEST
“Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit!,” Minoru Kawasaki (Japan)
“Queens of Langkasuka,” Nonzee Nimibutr (Thailand)
“Goodbye Solo,” Ramin Bahrani (U.S.)
“A Erva do Rato,” Julio Bressane, Rosa Dias (Brazil)
“Parc,” Arnaud des Pallieres (France)
“Melancholia,” Lav Diaz (Philippines)
“Un Lac,” Philippe Grandrieux (France)
“Wild Field,” Mikhail Kalatozishvili (Russia)
“Il Primo giorno d’inverno,” Mirko Locatelli (Italy)
“Voy a explotar,” Gerardo Naranjo (Mexico)
“Jay,” Francis Xavier Pasion (Philippines)
“Pa-ra-da,” Marco Pontecorvo (Italy, France, Romania)
“Zero Bridge,” Tariq Tapa (India, U.S.)
“Pusique nous sommes nes” (documentary), Jean-Pierre Duret, Andrea Santana (France, Brazil)
“Women” (documentary), Huang Wenhai, China, Switzerland
“In Paraguay” (documentary), Ross McElwee (U.S.)
“Z32” (documentary), Avi Mograbi (Israel, France)
“Below Sea Level” (documentary), Gianfranco Rosi (Italy, U.S.)
“Los Herederos” (documentary), Eugenio Polgovsky (Mexico)
“L’Exil et le royaume” (documentary), Andrei Schtakleff, Jonathan Le Fourn (France)
“Verso Est” (documentary), Laura Angiulli (Italy, Bosnia)
“ThyssenKrupp Blues” (documentary), Pietro Balla, Monica Repetto (Italy)
“La Fabbrica dei Tedeschi” (documentary), Mimmo Calopresti (Italy)
“Soltanto un nome nei titoli di testa” (documentary), Daniele Di Biasio (Italy)
“Antonioni su Antonioni” (documentary), Carlo di Carlo (Italy)
“Venezia ’68” (documentary), Antonello Sarno (Italy)
“Valentino: The Last Emperor” (documentary), Matt Tyrnauer (Italy)
“Orfeo 9” (1973), Tito Schipa Jr. (Italy), out-of-competition