Arriaga’s ‘Plain’ to bow at Venice

Drama stars Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger

ROME — “Babel” scribe Guillermo Arriaga’s U.S.-set directorial debut, “The Burning Plain,” will world preem in competition at the 65th Venice Film Festival with stars Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger expected on the red carpet.

Financed by 2929 Prods., “Burning Plain” is produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, with Theron wearing an executive producer hat along with 2929’s Marc Butan, Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, and Beth Kono as co-producer.

In Arriaga’s multi-strand drama Basinger plays the mother of Theron’s character as seen in childhood. Theron plays Sylvia, who after a turbulent childhood tries to reconcile with her parents.

“Burning Plain,” which was reportedly not ready for a Cannes launch, was sold at the Cannes mart by 2929 to several territories, including to Wild Bunch for France and to Italy’s Medusa.

Medusa will release in Italy shortly after its Lido bow in September.

The Coen brothers’ spy comedy “Burn After Reading” will open Venice, which runs Aug. 27-Sept. 6.

Other titles tipped for a Lido bow but still not confirmed include “Milk,” Gus Van Sant’s biopic of slain gay pol Harvey Milk, with Sean Penn in the title role; Robert De Niro/Al Pacino starrer “Righteous Kill,” helmed by Jon Avnet; Michael Winterbottom’s “Genoa”; and Spike Lee’s “Miracle at St. Anna.”

Among strong Italian contenders are Ferzan Ozpetek’s “Una giornata perfetta” (Perfect Day) and Pupi Avati’s “Il Papa di Giovanna,” the latter a Medusa title.

Medusa topper Gianpaolo Letta said Monday he is confident the Venice Film Festival boycott announced by Italo distributors last week, to protest the elimination of production tax breaks by the Silvio Berlusconi-led government, will be called off.

“A solution will be found,” Letta said, indicating he thought the tax breaks, of which he is a big supporter, will be re-introduced by the Senate. Medusa is owned by Berlusconi.

The Venice fest lineup will be announced July 29.

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