Cronenberg, Pacino, Solondz pics among hot titles

The strong English-language selection bolsters the Lido’s standing as a prime awards-season platform. And with 65 world premieres, this marks the first time in the Lido’s postwar history that every feature in the three main sections is a world preem.

New works from Roman Polanski, David Cronenberg, William Friedkin, Todd Solondz, Abel Ferrara, Tomas Alfredson and Steve McQueen will unspool in the Venice Film Festival competition, which also boasts a strong Asian presence and most of the cream of the European crop.

The lineup confirms many of the titles anticipated by Variety on Wednesday.

“Out of my eight years directing Venice, this selection is the one closest to my vision,” Venice artistic topper Marco Mueller told Variety on Thursday.

The fest’s out-of-competition section will see the bows of Steven Soderbergh’s thriller “Contagion,” from Warner Bros.; Madonna’s dual romancer “W.E,” from the Weinstein Co.; and Mary Harron’s 1960s-set “The Moth Diaries,” about a disturbed 16-year-old in an exclusive boarding school, from Universal.

Al Pacino, as previously announced, is bowing his unconventional Oscar Wilde-themed “Wilde Salome,” and being feted with a Jaegar-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award, which will be handed to him by Jessica Chastain, who plays Salome.

While there’s no shortage of pure auteurs and even experimental fare, the competition is characterized by “high-profile movies with an elevated entertainment value, and in some cases a clearly commercial conceit,” Mueller said. “It confirms the importance for producers and distributors of Venice as a launching pad.”

For a top-tier festival, there are certainly plenty of thrillers and noirs in competition this year, as well as a number of pics based on plays.

Venice’s previously announced opener is George Clooney’s political thriller “The Ides of March,” the thesp’s fourth directorial effort, which is based on the play “Farragut North,” by Beau Willimon. Pic will also head to Toronto in September.

Clooney, and most of the rest of “The Ides” cast, are expected Aug. 31 on the Lido in the fest’s refurbished Sala Grande, which is Venice’s main improvement to facilities after construction of the planned Palazzo del Cinema was halted due to toxic asbestos found underneath.

Polanski will not be coming to tubthump “Carnage,” an adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s play “God of Carnage,” starring John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz. But Mueller said Winslet is expected.

Cronenberg will bow his psychodrama “A Dangerous Method,” produced by Jeremy Thomas, starring Viggo Mortensen as Freud, Michael Fassbender as Jung and Keira Knightley as a patient of Jung’s with whom he had an affair. “Method,” which also plays in Toronto, is based on the play “The Talking Cure” by Christopher Hampton.

Friedkin will bring “Killer Joe,” starring Matthew McConaughey as a cop who’s also a hitman; Solondz is Lido-bound with black comedy “Dark Horse,” about two stunted thirtysomethings both living at home who try to strike up a romance, starring Selma Blair, Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken; and Abel Ferrara his apocalyptic “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” with Willem Dafoe, a European co-production from Fabula, Funny Balloons and Wild Bunch.

The Lido will see an unusually strong U.K. presence, with a trio spearheaded by buzzed-about John Le Carre adaptation “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” helmed by Sweden’s Tomas Alfredson (“Let the Right One In”), but produced by Blighty’s Working Title stable.

Other Brit pics vying for a Golden Lion are Andrea Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights” adaptation and the sexually charged “Shame,” starring Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in Steve McQueen’s “Hunger” follow-up.

“Shame” is one of five second works competing. Other sopho outings are U.S. serial-killer thriller “Texas Killing Fields” by Ami Canaan Mann, toplining Sam Worthington; Israeli helmer Eran Kolirin’s “The Exchange,” his follow-up to “The Band’s Visit”; Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s “Chicken With Plums,” their live-action follow-up to “Persepolis”; and big-budget Taiwanese epic “Seediq bale” (described by Mueller as ” ‘Braveheart’ with Taiwanese actors”), helmed by Wei Te-sheng, whose “Cape No. 7″ was pivotal in 2008 for the local industry.

The only first work in the competition is “L’ultimo terrestre,” by the Italo graphic artist known as Gipi, produced by Domenico Procacci.

Italy has two other works competing: Cristina Comencini’s “Quando la notte,” a tale of twisted passion set in the Italian Alps, and Emanuele Crialese’s immigration drama “Terraferma,” about a woman who arrives from sub-saharian Africa at a small Sicilian isle in her quest to reach the European mainland. Both are produced by Cattleya.

This year’s ample Asian offerings, besides “Seediq bale,” are manga adaptation “Himizu,” from cult Japanese helmer Sion Sono (“Love Exposure,” “Cold Fish”), and Ann Hui’s “A Simple Life,” about the relationship between a young man and his servant, toplining local star Andy Lau.

Darren Aronofsky, as previously announced, is heading the competition jury.

This is the last year of Mueller’s mandate, but there is a chance his contract may be reupped.

68TH ANNUAL VENICE FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP – COMPETITION
OPENING FILM
“The Ides of March,” George Clooney (U.S.)
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” Tomas Alfredson (Italy)
“Wuthering Heights,” Andrea Arnold (U.K.)
“Texas Killing Fields,” Ami Canaan Mann (U.S.)
“A Dangerous Method,” David Cronenberg (Germany, Canada)
“4:44 Last Day on Earth,” Abel Ferrara (U.S.)
“Killer Joe,” William Friedkin (U.S.)
“The Exchange,” Eran Kolirin (Israel, Germany)
“Alps,” Yorgos Lanthimos (Greece)
“Shame,” Steve McQueen (U.K.)
“Carnage,” Roman Polanski (France, Germany, Spain, Poland)
“Chicken With Plums,” Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud (France, Belgium, Germany)
“A Burning Hot Summer,” Philippe Garrel (France)
“A Simple Life,” Ann Hui (China, HK)
“Faust,” Aleksander Sokurov (Russia)
“Dark Horse,” Todd Solondz (U.S.)
“Himizu,” Sion Sono (Japan)
“Seediq Bale,” Wei Te-sheng (Taiwan)
“Quando la Notte,” Cristina Comencini (Italy)
“Terraferma,” Emanuele Crialese (Italy)
“L’Ultimo Terrestre,” Gipi (Italy)

OUT OF COMPETITION
“Vivan las Antipodas!” Victor Kossakovsky (Germany, Arg, Neth, Chile, Russia) — out of competition opener
“La folie Almayer,” Chantal Akerman (Belgium, France)
“The Moth Diaries,” Mary Harron (Canada, Ireland)
“W.E.,” Madonna (U.K.)
“Il villaggio di cartone,” Ermanno Olmi (Italy)
“Wilde Salome,” Al Pacino (U.S.)
“Contagion,” Steven Soderbergh (U.S.)
“The Sorcerer and the White Snake,” Tony Ching Siu-tung (China, HK)
“Giochi d’estate,” Rolando Colla (Switzerland, Italy)
“La Desintegration,” Philippe Faucon (Belgium)
“Alois Nebel,” Tomas Lunak (Czech Rep., Germany)
“Eva,” Kike Maillo (Spain, France)
“Scossa,” Francesco Maselli, Carlo Lizzani, Ugo Gregoretti, Nino Russo (Italy)
“La Cle des champs,” Claude Nuridsany, Marie Perennou (France)
“Tormented,” Takashi Shimizu (Japan)
“Marco Bellocchio, Venezia 2011,” Pietro Marcello (Italy)
“La Meditazione di Hayez,” Mario Martone (Italy)
“Tahrir 2011,” Tamer Ezzat, Ahmad Abdalla, Ayten Amin, Amr Salama (Egypt)
“The End,” Collectif Abounaddara (Syria)
“Vanguard,” Collectif Abounaddara (Syria)
Evolution (Megaplex 3D), Marco Brambilla (U.S.)

CLOSING FILM
“Damsels in Distress,” Whit Stillman (U.S.)

OUT OF COMPETITION EVENTS
“Questa storia qua,” Alessandro Paris, Sibylle Righetti (Italy)
“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel,” Lisa Immordino Vreeland (U.S.)

GOLDEN LION CAREER 2011
“Nel nome del padre,” Marco Bellocchio (Italy)
PERSOL 3-D PRIZE 2011
“Joule [3D]” David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi (Italy)
“Spell. The Hypnotist Dog [3D],” David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi (Italy)
“Suite [3D],” Davide Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi (Italy)

NICHOLAS RAY 1911-2011 />”We Can’t Go Home Again” (New reconstructed and restored version) (U.S.)
“Don’t Expect Too Much,” Susan Ray (U.S.)

ROSSELLINI REDISCOVERED
“India, Matri Bhumi” (New restored version) (Italy, France, India)

MANI KAUL (25/12/1944-6/7/2011)
“Duvidha,” Mani Kaul (India)

HOMAGE TO TODD HAYNES
“Mildred Pierce,” Todd Haynes (U.S.)

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