Affleck, Reichardt, Tykwer pix may screen
Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” is among a new clutch of hotly anticipated titles tipped to unspool at the Venice Film Fest, along with works by Ben Affleck, Kelly Reichardt, Tom Tykwer, Takashi Miike and Tsui Hark.With the official lineup set to be announced July 29, artistic director Marco Mueller seems to have assembled a strong selection with robust English-language and European showings, a standout Asian presence and Spanish-language cinema also slotted. Sources say that “Black Swan,” a psychological thriller set in the world of ballet, is likely to be the Venice opener on Sept. 1. It could provide plenty of star power, with the possibility of Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder and Vincent Cassel accompanying it to the Lido. Fox Searchlight’s test screenings for “Swan” have reportedly generated plenty of buzz. “The Town” is Affleck’s sophomore feature as director after “Gone Baby Gone.” Affleck also stars as a bank robber smitten with a teller he meets on a heist. Warner Bros. has slated “The Town” for a Sept. 17 Stateside release. In a year that is likely to see lots of high-profile U.S. titles on the Lido and Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” — both from Focus Features — U.S. indie darling Reichardt also looks to be Venice competition bound with her Oregon Trail period pic “Meek’s Cutoff.” Cult helmer Paul Morrissey (“Flesh,” “Trash,” “Heat”), best known for his association with Andy Warhol, is also expected to bow his long-gestating “News From Nowhere.” Likely to unspool in an out-of-competish berth is British helmer Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech,” toplining Colin Firth as the stammering King George VI, from the Weinstein Co. Insiders believe British helmer Justin Chadwick’s “The First Grader,” the true tale of an 84-year-old Kenyan villager who fights for his right to go to school, is set for a Venice launch, along with British visual artist/helmer Isaac Julien’s China-set “Ten Thousand Waves,” which includes Maggie Cheung in the cast. Previously tipped for Lido berths are Julian Schnabel’s “Miral,” Monte Hellman’s noir “Road to Nowhere,” Dustin Hoffman starrer “Barney’s Version,” helmed by Richard J. Lewis and based on the eponymous best-seller, and Al Pacino’s “Wilde Salome.” Tom Tykwer’s Berlin-set love triangle “Three,” the Teutonic helmer’s first German project in a decade, is among the latest additions to the list of European entries believed to be Lido-bound, along with buzzed-about French pic “Happy Few,” which is helmer Antony Cordier’s erotically charged followup to “Cold Showers,” from Gaul’s Wild Bunch. As already reported, the Gallic group is expected to include Abdel Kechiche’s “Black Venus” and Francois Ozon’s “Potiche,” starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu. Spanish-language cinema will likely make its return on the Lido with actress-helmer Iciar Bollain’s third feature “Even the Rain,” a drama about Bolivian water wars. The Italian titles tipped for competish are Saverio Costanzo’s “The Solitude of Prime Numbers,” featuring Isabella Rossellini and Alba Rohrwacher, Mario Martone’s costumer “Noi credevamo” and Carlo Mazzacurati’s comedy “La passione,” produced by Domenico Procacci’s Fandango. Alessandro Piva’s noir “Henry,” about a drug war in contempo Rome; Giada Colagrande’s “A Woman,” starring Willem Dafoe and Stefania Rocca, and Gianfranco Rosi’s docu “El Sicario,” in which a Mexican hitman recounts his jobs both for drug traffickers and governments, are likely to unspool in sidebars. Fox Intl. gangster epic “Vallanzasca,” helmed by Michele Placido and starring Kim Rossi Stuart as real-life Renato Vallanzasca, a handsome ladies man from a middle-class background who became a Milan mobster, is tipped for out-of-competish. Likely additions to the Lido’s previously reported Asian contingent are cult Japanese auteur Takashi Miike’s samurai swashbuckler “Thirteen Assassins,” a remake of Eiichi Kudo’s 1963 hit; Hong Kong helmer Tsui Hark’s period mystery thriller “Detective Dee”; and Andrew Lau’s martial arts actioner “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zen,” a sequel of sorts to 1972 Bruce Lee starrer “Fist of Fury.” The Lido also looks set to host the bow of what is being touted as the first Hong Kong 3D horror pic, “The Child’s Eye,” from directorial duo the Pang brothers. John Woo’s martial arts actioner “Reign of Assassins” and Johnny To’s thriller “Shares” are also believed to have Lido berths. Fest runs Sept. 1-11.