The Zero Theorem Review

Name auteurs and lesser-known helmers, star power, set to disembark on Lido

ROME – Venice topper Alberto Barbera has unveiled a rich mix of name auteurs and newcomers, crowdpleasers and esoteric pics, with U.S. and U.K. titles playing prominently, in his lineup for the 70th Venice Film Festival, where there will be no shortage of stars and potential awards-season contenders.

New works from global auteur heavyweights, including Terry Gilliam, Stephen Frears, Jonathan Glazer, Kelly Reichardt, Alfonso Cuaron, Kim Ki-duk, Amos Gitai, Hayao Miyazaki, and Gianni Amelio, will play alongside lesser-known names in what Barbera called “a non-homogenous” selection.

“I hope I’ve countered the notion that festivals are overly servile towards big name auteurs,” Barbera said at the packed presser in Rome’s Excelsior Hotel.

“Of course we have big names, but we also have plenty of first works and works by directors still seeking recognition,” he added.

The ample U.S. contingent – 18 American features unspooling in the official selection, seven competing – reflects this criteria.

A late addition to the competition is “Parkland,” the directorial debut of scribe Peter Landesman, an ensemble drama looking at JFK’s assassination from multiple angles. Produced, among others, by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, “Parkland” has a cast comprising Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Giamatti, and Billy Bob Thornton.

Also flying the U.S. flag in competish are James Franco’s Cormac McCarthy adaptation “Child of God”; David Gordon Green’s Texas-set thriller “Joe,” toplining Nicolas Cage; and Errol Morris’ documentary “The Unknown Known,” which is a long interview with Donald Rumsfeld. This edition marks the first time Venice has had a docu in the main competition.

Gilliam, a Lido aficionado, is bowing his “The Zero Theorem” (pictured), toplined by Christoph Waltz as a reclusive computer genius, and also starring Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Melanie Thierry and David Thewlis, among others. Voltage is handling world sales.

Glazer is launching his unconventional sci-fier “Under the Skin” in which Scarlett Johansson plays a voracious visiting extraterrestrial, while Reichardt’s eco-terrorist thriller “Night Moves” stars Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning as three environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam.

“The richness of American cinema at the moment is really extraordinary, both from the indies and from Hollywood,” Barbera enthused.

The opener, as previously announced, is Alfonso Cuaron’s sci-fier “Gravity,” toplining George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, marking the first time the Lido has kicked off with a 3D pic.

Warner Bros. is world-preeming the buzzed-about “Gravity” in Venice on Aug. 28 out of competition, with the pic’s North American preem in Toronto to follow.

The closer is Gallic helmer Tierry Ragobert’s $20 million 3D docu “Amazonia,” co-produced with France’s Biloba and sold by Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte.

Also at the Lido out-of-competish is previously announced Lindsay Lohan starrer “The Canyons,” helmed by Paul Schrader, who will head the jury of the cutting-edge Horizons section.

Scripted by Bret Easton Ellis, this microbudget pic, crowd-funded on Kickstarter, also features porn star James Deen, as a scheming movie producer in contempo Los Angeles.

Adding age diversity to the mix is Canadian enfant-prodige helmer Xavier Dolan, 24, who will bow his psychological thriller “Tom at the Farm,” set deep in the farmlands of Quebec, in competition; Kim, who won the Golden Lion last year for “Pieta,” is back, this time out of competition, with “Moebius,” which has been banned by the South Korean ratings board reportedly due to scenes of self-castration and incest; Amelio, a veteran and also a previous Golden Lion winner, is launching his first comedy, “L’intrepido,” competing and also unspooling in Toronto.

The U.K. is making a strong showing in the competish with Stephen Frears’ “Philomena,” toplining Judi Dench as Philomena Lee, an Irishwoman who searches for the son she was forced to give up for adoption. The Weinstein Co. has U.S. rights. Also bowing at Venice, flying the British and Australian flags, is U.S. helmer John Curran’s “Tracks,” starring Mia Wasikowska as Robyn Davidson, a young woman who traveled more than 1,678 miles through the Australian desert in 1977. Pic is produced by “The King’s Speech” duo Emile Sherman and Iain Canning.

Besides Amelio, Italy has two other titles competing, “Via Castellana Bandiera,” the Palermo-set feature film debut of hot Sicilian theater and opera director Emma Dante, and Gianfranco Rosi’s Rome-set “Sacro GRA,” a docu about the grand loop thoroughfare around Rome.

The relatively slim Gallic presence sees the return to the Lido of Philippe Garrel with “La Jalousie,” starring his son Louis Garrel and Anna Mouglalis (“Kiss of the Damned”).

Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai is bowing his “Ana Arabia”; Japanese animation-auteur Hayao Miyazaki will be on the Lido with “The Wind Rises” (Kaze Tachinu), his latest toon that just opened boffo at the Japanese B.O. The Miyazaki pic marks a rare case of a non-world preem at this year’s Venice, the other one being Schrader’s “The Canyons.”

Taiwan auteur Tsai Ming-liang is world-preeming his “Stray Dogs,” which Barbera said the helmer has told him will be his last work and his “testament” to filmmaking.

The cutting-edge Horizons section includes “Palo Alto,” from Gia Coppola (granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola), and based on a collection of short stories by James Franco, who also produced. Set in the titular California city, the story follows a group of teenagers who have little to do except get into trouble and stars Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer, Val Kilmer, Keegan Allen, Nat Wolff, Colleen Camp and Franco. Also from the U.S. in Horizons is U.S. horror helmer Ti West’s “The Sacrament,” a depiction of the Jim Jones followers’ 1978 mass suicide in Guyana.

Horizons also has French fashion designer Agnes B’s directorial debut “Je m’appelle Hmmm…,” which Barbera called an unflinching look at pedophilia; British multihyphenate Uberto Pasolini’s sophomore work, “Still Life”; and “We Are the Best!,” the latest from Sweden’s Lukas Moodysson (“Mammoth”), among other entries.

Bernardo Bertolucci is heading the competition jury, as previously announced. Barbera pointed out that Venice is expanding screening space for the second edition of the Venice Market, headed by Pascal Diot, who has already boked more attendees than last year.

Fest will run Aug. 28-Sept. 7.

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL — IN COMPETITION

“Es-Stouh” (The Rooftops), Merzak Allouache (Algeria-France)
“L’intrepido” Gianni Amelio (Italy)
Miss Violence,” Alexandros Avranas (Greece)
“Tracks,” John Curran (U.K.-Australia)
“Via Castellana Bandiera,” Emma Dante (Italy-Switzerland-France)
“Tom at the Farm,” Xavier Dolan (Canada-France)
“Child of God,” James Franco (U.S.)
“Philomena,” Stephen Frears (U.K.)
“La Jalousie,” Philippe Garrel (France)
“The Zero Theorem,” Terry Gilliam (U.K.-U.S.)
“Ana Arabia,” Amos Gitai (Israel-France)
“Under the Skin,” Jonathan Glazer (U.K.-U.S.)
“Joe,” David Gordon Green (U.S.)
“Die Frau des Polizisten” (The Police Officer’s Wife), Philip Groning (Germany)
“Kaze tachinu,” Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)
“The Unknown Known,” Errol Morris (U.S.)
“Night Moves,” Kelly Reichardt (U.S.)
“Sacro GRA,” Gianfranco Rosi (Italy)
“Jiaoyou” (Stray Dogs), Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan-France)
“Parkland,” Peter Landesman (U.S.)

OUT OF COMPETITION
Space Pirate Captain Harlock,” Aramaki Shinji (Japan)
“Gravity,” Alfonso Cuaron (U.S.) (Opener)
“Moebius,” Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)
“Locke,” Steven Knight (U.K.)
“Yurusarezaru mono” (Unforgiven), Lee Sang-Il (Japan)
”Wolf Creek 2,” Greg McLean (Australia)
“Die Andere Heimat — Chronik einer Sehnsucht” (Home from Home — Chronicle of a Vision), Edgar Reitz (Germany)
“The Canyons,” Paul Schrader (U.S.)
“Che strano chiamarsi Federico Scola racconta Fellini,” Ettore Scola (Italy)
Walesa. Czlowiek z nadziei” (Walesa. Man of Hope), Andrzej Wajda, Ewa Brodzka (Poland)

OUT OF COMPETITION — DOCUMENTARIES
“Summer 82 When Zappa Came to Sicily,” Salvo Cuccia (Italy-U.S.)
“Pine Ridge,” Anna Eborn (Denmark)
“The Armstrong Lie,” Alex Gibney (U.S.)
“Ukraina ne Bordel” (Ukraine Is Not Brothel), Kitty Green (Australia)
”Amazonia,” Thierry Ragobert (France-Brazil) (Closer)
“Feng Ai” (‘Til Madness Do Us Apart), Wang Bing (Hong Kong-China-France-Japan)
“At Berkeley,” Frederick Wiseman (U.S.)

HORIZONS
“Je m’appelle Hmmm…,” Agnes B. (France)
“Bauyr” (Little Brother), Serik Aprymov (Kazakhstan)
“Il terzo tempo,” Enrico Maria Artale (Italy)
Eastern Boys,” Robin Campillo (France)
“Palo Alto,” Gia Coppola (U.S.)
“Ruin,” Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Michael Cody (Australia)
“Mahi Va Gorbeh” (Fish and Cat), Shahram Mokri (Iran)
“Vi ar bast!” (We Are the Best!) Lukas Moodysson (Sweden-Denmark)
Wolfskinder” (Wolfschildren), Rick Ostermann (Germany)
“La vida despues,” David Pablos (Mexico)
“Algunas Chicas,” Santiago Palavecino (Argentina)
“Medeas,” Andrea Pallaoro (U.S.-Italy)
“Still Life,” Uberto Pasolini (U.K.)
“Piccola Patria,” Alessandro Rossetto (Italy)
“La prima neve,” Andrea Segre (Italy)
“Jigoku de naze warui,” (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?) Sono Sion (Japan)
“The Sacrament,” Ti West (U.S.)

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