×

‘Hurt Locker’ gives Venice a jolt

Bigelow film follows elite bomb squad in Iraq

VENICE — The Iraq war dominated the day at the Venice Film Festival, where the world preem of Kathryn Bigelow’s high-adrenaline bomb-squad actioner “The Hurt Locker” gave the Lido a jolt and emerged as the Iraq pic that may break through to American auds.

“We represent something that’s very different from any other Iraq war film that we’ve seen so far,” producer Greg Shapiro told Daily Variety on Thursday.

Shapiro has high hopes of closing a U.S. distribution deal at the Toronto Film Festival for the war drama, which received a 10-minute standing ovation after its Lido screening.

The story follows an elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team operating in and around Baghdad.

Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty star as the death-defying defusers, with Ralph Fiennes putting in a cameo as a mercenary. Guy Pearce also has a small role.

The indie pic, which was shot in Jordan and was produced by Shapiro and Nicolas Chartier’s Voltage Pictures, goes out in Italy via Warner Bros. on Oct. 10.

At the packed news conference, Bigelow, who is the only woman helmer in the Lido’s 21-title competition, called “Hurt Locker” “a very topical film about an underreported war.”

But politics are really peripheral.

“My interest was to give this conflict a human face and to enable the audience to actually experience what a soldier experiences, based on personal observation from the battlefield,” she said.

Journo Mark Boal, who was embedded with an EOD team in Iraq in 2004 and penned the screenplay based on that experience, called “Hurt Locker” “primarily observational, as opposed to polemical.”

“It’s almost a dirty little secret of war that, as horrible as it is, there are some men who, through the intensity of the experience, come to find it alluring,” Boal said.

Shapiro acknowledged that the market for Iraq war films is very tough.

Paul Haggis’ “In the Valley of Elah” and Brian De Palma’s “Redacted,” which both preemed in Venice last year, sparked little interest with auds. Boal also wrote the material on which “In the Valley of Elah” was based.

“Hopefully this film presents the war in a new and a fresh way that people haven’t seen, so we’re hoping that perhaps that will break the trend in America,” Shapiro said.

Slotted just as Toronto opens, “Hurt Locker” provided further proof that Venice topper Marco Mueller has backloaded the fest, which lacked firepower during the first week.

The Venice fest ends Saturday.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Joker

    Why 'Joker' Is About All of Us (Column)

    Take a look at the photo above. It’s the most poetic image to have emerged from Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” and the reason I say “poetic” isn’t just because the shot has that caught-in-action indelible vibe of a quintessential movie poster: graphic, hauntingly composed, a bit shocking (at least, the first time you see it). It’s [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Rules International Box Office With $117 Million

    Though Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” stumbled at the domestic box office, the Angelina Jolie-led sequel enjoyed a far stronger start overseas. The follow-up to 2014’s fantasy adventure inspired by the “Sleeping Beauty” villain took off with $117 million from 56 international markets. In North America, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted with a meager $36 [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Dominates With Soft $36 Million

    Five years after Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” cast a spell over the box office, the villainous enchantress has returned to the top of domestic charts. Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” a sequel to 2014’s fantasy adventure based on the “Sleeping Beauty” sorceress, flew lower than the original and debuted to a disappointing $36 million from 2,790 [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

  • Film Republic Adds Further Sales for

    Film Republic Inks Further Deals for 'God of the Piano' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sales agent Film Republic has closed further territory sales on “God of the Piano.” Film Movement previously picked up North American rights to the film, as reported exclusively by Variety. Mont Blanc Cinema has taken the rights for Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Limelight Distribution is looking after the Australian and New Zealand releases, Hualu [...]

  • ‘Bears Famous Invasion’s Lorenzo Mattotti Brings

    Lorenzo Mattotti on MIA Title ‘Bears Famous Invasion of Sicily’

    Illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti is no stranger to film festivals. The artist – a long-time New Yorker cover artist and onetime Lou Reed and Michelangelo Antonioni collaborator – has designed posters for past editions of Venice and Cannes, and has contributed to films that played in Toronto and Rome. This year, however, he experienced the festival [...]

  • Dreamworks Abominable

    'Abominable' Release in Malaysia Abandoned

    Plans to release the increasingly controversial Chinese-U.S. co-produced animation film “Abominable” in Malaysia have been dropped after the distributor said that it would not be cut to cater to political sensitivities. The film includes a scene which depicts a map showing the South China Sea and the so called “nine-dash line” that China uses to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content