ROME — The Venice Film Festival has unveiled its lineup of 79 world premieres, comprising an ample American contingent, alongside robust European and Asian representations, all making for a meticulously calibrated mix of classic auteur and genre fare, plus more esoteric offerings.
Julian Schnabel’s Israel-Palestine conflict-themed “Miral,” Sofia Coppola’s father-daughter pic “Somewhere,” Monte Hellman’s noir “Road to Nowhere,” Vincent Gallo’s suicide drama “Promises Written in Water,” and Kelly Reichardt’s Oregon Trail period pic “Meek’s Cutoff” will launch from the Lido and vie for the Golden Lion with fresh fare from European heavyweights, including Abdellatif Kechiche, Francois Ozon and Tom Tykwer, and name Asian helmers Tsui Hark, Takashi Miike and Tran Anh Hung, among other entries.
Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller “Black Swan,” from Fox Searchlight, starring Natalie Portman as a New York City ballet dancer contending with a new rival, will open Venice, in competish, Sept. 1, as previously announced. “Swan” looks set to make for a star-studded red carpet with Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis, also likely to come tubthump.
That said, Venice Biennale prexy Paolo Baratta said the operative word this year in Venice will be “austerity,” due to budget cuts, meaning no splashy opening-night party.
Which is why the first day of the fest will see two other pics unspooling besides “Swan,” Robert Rodriguez’s actioner “Machete,” as a midnight movie, 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.”
In a year in which U.S. entries were quite thin in Cannes, there are six Yank pics in the Venice competish (more than any other country), albeit with a distinctly indie feel, and 13 spread around the official selection.
Warner Bros. will world preem Ben Affleck’s “The Town,” in which Affleck stars as a bank robber, in Venice’s vast out-of-competition section, where Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones’ Elia Kazan tribute docu “A Letter to Elia” will also unspool (sans Scorsese in tow).
Also from the U.S. out-of-competition are Casey Affleck’s directorial debut, “I’m Still Here: the Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix,” John Turturro’s love letter to Neapolitan music, “Passione” (which is however flying the Italian flag), and Julie Taymor’s gender-bending “The Tempest,” which is the fest’s previously announced closer, from Touchstone, with Helen Mirren likely to attend.
Dustin Hoffman starrer “Barney’s Version,” helmed by Canada’s Richard J. Lewis and based on the eponymous best-seller, will world preem before segueing to Toronto.
Commenting on the competish, artistic topper Marco Mueller proudly proclaimed that Venice has never had a competition with so many young, abeit proven, directors, noting that the average age is 47.
The only exception — Mueller pointed out — is Monte Hellman, who is 78. He praised Hellman as “a director who has put his stamp on one of the most important strands of independant American cinema.”
“Hellman has waited way too long to make his big auteur movie,” said Mueller, “and we are proud to have it in competition.”
Hellman’s “Road to Nowhere is a romantic thriller, starring Dominique Swain and Shannyn Sossamon, about a young filmmaker who becomes enmeshed in a criminal scheme while making a movie on location. Pic is penned by Variety executive editor Steven Gaydos, who previously co-wrote Hellman’s pics “Iguana” and “Better Watch Out.”
Mueller also revealed why Anton Corbijn’s George Clooney starrer “The American,” which had once been tipped for Venice, is absent from the Lido: Since Focus Features is releasing “The American” Sept. 1, the only available slot would have been opening night.
“But we opted for ‘Black Swan’ as the opener instead,” Mueller said.
Among the hotly anticipated titles from young-ish established European helmers, are Kechiche’s “Black Venus,” the true tale of 19th-century South African tribeswoman Sarah Baartman who, due to her oversize physical features, was displayed as a naked circus freak; Ozon’s “Potiche,” a comedy starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu; and Tom Tykwer’s Berlin-set love triangle “Three.”
Buzzed-about entries by lesser-known Euros include Gallic helmer Antony Cordier’s “Happy Few,” his erotically charged followup to “Cold Showers,” Italo auteur Saverio Costanzo’s “The Solitude of Prime Numbers,” based on a bestseller, and Spanish cult helmer Alex de la Iglesia’s “A Sad Trumpet Ballad,” a genre blender that moves from early scenes in the Spanish Civil War to 1973, when two clowns fall in love with the same femme trapeze artist.
Besides “Solitude,” the Italo pack sees Mario Martone’s costumer “Noi credevamo,” Carlo Mazzacurati’s comedy “La passione,” and Ascanio Celestini’s mental institution-temed “La Pecora Nera,” which is the only first work, competing.
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 unspooling out-of-competish.
The Lido’s ample Asian lot comprises 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 the Mystery of Phantom Flame”; and Andrew Lau’s martial-arts actioner “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zen.”
The Lido will also 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.
Another Asian 3D entry is Takashi Shimizu’s “Shock Labyrinth 3D,” from Japan.
Paris-based Vietnamese helmer Tran Anh Hung’s “Norwegian Wood” is based on the eponymous novel by Japan’s Haruki Murakami and will reportedly feature The Beatles’ original “Norwegian Wood” as its theme.
“Reign of Assassins,” by John Woo, honored with this year’s Golden Lion for Career Achievement, will unspool out-of-competish as will Stanley Kwan’s “Showtime.”
Quentin Tarantino is heading the main jury.
Mueller this year is introducing a reconfigured Horizons section, open to works of all formats, making the Lido more of a laboratory. The Horizons lineup was announced yesterday.
The 67th edition of the fest runs Sept. 1-11.
67TH ANNUAL VENICE FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP — COMPETITION
“Black Swan,” Darren Aronofsky (U.S.)
“La pecora nera,” Ascanio Celestini (Italy)
“Somewhere,” Sofia Coppola (U.S.)
“Happy Few,” Antony Cordier (France)
“The Solitude of Prime Numbers,” Saverio Costanzo (Italy-Germany-France)
“Silent Souls,” Aleksei Fedorchenko (Russia)
“Promises Written in Water,” Vincent Gallo (U.S.)
“Road to Nowhere,” Monte Hellman (U.S.)
“A Sad Trumpet Ballad,” Alex de la Iglesia (Spain-France)
“Black Venus,” Abdellatif Kechiche (France)
“Post Mortem,” Pablo Larrain (Chile-Mexico-Germany)
“Barney’s Version,” Richard J. Lewis (Canada-Italy)
“We Believed,” Mario Martone (Italy-France)
“La passione,” Carlo Mazzacurati (Italy)
“13 Assassins,” Takashi Miike (Japan)
“Potiche,” Francois Ozon (France)
“Meek’s Cutoff,” Kelly Reichardt (U.S.)
“Miral,” Julian Schnabel (U.S.-France-Italy-Israel)
“Norwegian Wood,” Tran Anh Hung (Japan)
“Attenberg,” Athina Rachel Tsangari (Greece)
“Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame,” Tsui Hark (China)
“Three,” Tom Tykwer (Germany)
OUT OF COMPETITION
“The Town,” Ben Affleck (U.S.)
“I’m Still Here: the Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix,” Casey Affleck (U.S.)
“Sorelle Mai,” Marco Bellocchio (Italy)
“Niente Paura — Come siamo come eravamo e le canzoni di Luciano Ligabue,” Piergiorgio Gay (Italy)
“Dante Ferretti — Production Designer,” Gianfranco Giagni (Italy)
“Notizie degli Scavi,” Emidio Greco (Italy)
“The Last Movie” (1971), Dennis Hopper
“Gorbaciof,” Stefano Incerti (Italy)
“That Girl in Yellow Boots,” Anurag
“Showtime,” Stanley Kwan (China)
“Sei Venezia,” Carlo Mazzacurati (Italy)
“Zebraman” (2004), Takashi Miike (Japan)
“Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City,” Takashi Miike (Japan)
“The Child’s Eye 3D,” Oxide Pang and Danny Pang (China, Hong Kong)
“Vallanzasca – Gli angeli del male,” Michele Placido (Italy)
“All Inclusive 3D,” Nadia Ranocchi and David Zamagni (Italy, Austria)
“Raavan” (Tamil version), Mani Ratnam (India)
“1960,” Gabriele Salvatores (Italy)
“La prima volta a Venezia,” Antonello Sarno (Italy)
“A Letter to Elia,” Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones (U.S.)
“Shock Labyrinth 3D,” Takashi Shimizu (Japan)
“L’ultimo Gattopardo: Ritratto di Goffredo Lombardo,” Giuseppe Tornatore (Italy)
“Passione,” John Turturro (Italy)
“Lope,” Andrucha Waddington (Spain, Brazil)
“Space Guy,” Zhang Yuan (China)
Opening Night Tribute to Bruce Lee
“The Return of Chen Zhen,” Andrew Lau (China, Hong Kong)
Opening Night Midnight Movie
“Machete,” Robert Rodriguez (U.S.)
“The Tempest,” Julie Taymor (U.S.)
Homage to Vittorio Gassman
“Vittorio racconta — Una vita da Mattatore,” Giancarlo Scarchilli (Italy)
Golden Lion For Lifetime Achievement 2010
“Reign of Assassins,” John Woo and Su Chao-Pin (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong)
SPECIAL EVENT OUT OF COMPETITION
Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award — Mani Ratnam
“Raavan” (Hindi Version) (India)
“Lost Kisses,” Roberta Torre (Italy)
“20 Sigarette,” Aureliano Amadei (Italy)
“Il Primo Incarico,” Giorgia Cecere (Italy)
“A Woman,” Giada Colagrande (Italy)
“Tajabone,” Salvatore Mereu (Italy)
“Ma che storia,” Gianfranco Pannone (Italy)
“Into Paradiso,” Paola Randi (Italy)
CONTROCAMPO ITALIANO SHORTS
“Come un soffio,” Michela Cescon (Italy)
“Sposero Nichi Vendola,” Andrea Costantino (Italy)
“Bassa Marea,” Roberto De Paolis (Italy)
“Achille,” Giorgia Farina (Italy)
“Niente Orchidee,” Simone Godano and Leonardo Godano (Italy)
CONTROCAMPO ITALIANO OUT OF COMPETITION
“Tarda Estate,” Antonio Di Trapani (Italy)
“Il Loro Natale,” Gaetano Di Vaio (Italy)
“Ward 54,” Monica Maggioni (Italy, U.S.)
“Flaiano: il meglio e passato,” Gianfranco Rolandi, Steve Della Casa
“Se hai una montagna di neve, tienila all’ombra,” Elisabetta Sgarbi and Eugenio Lio (Italy)
“Fughe e approdi,” Giovanna Taviani (Italy)