Venice competition comes into focus

Polanski, Cronenberg, Soderbergh pics set for film festival

The Venice Film Festival, which will announce its lineup Thursday, has locked in what looks to be a standout edition, with plenty of high-profile English-language titles plus a strong Asian presence and the cream of the European crop.

As anticipated by Variety in May, new works from Roman Polanski, David Cronenberg, Steven Soderbergh, Todd Solondz, Alexander Sokurov, Mary Harron and Madonna are coming to the Lido.

As the Toronto Film Fest begins its announcements today, several Venice premieres are also likely to head to Canada, possibly with a pitstop at Telluride along the way.

According to sources, the ample U.S. contingent in Venice now also includes William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe,” starring Matthew McConaughey as a cop who is also a hitman; Abel Ferrara’s apocalyptic “Last Day on Earth,” with Willem Dafoe; and Ami Canaan Mann’s serial-killer thriller “Texas Killing Fields,” toplining Sam Worthington. All are in competition.

Popular on Variety

This year’s Venice competition will be packed with noirs and genre pics.

The Lido will also see an unusually strong U.K. presence consisting of Swedish helmer Tomas Alfredson’s John Le Carre adaptation “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” from Blighty’s Working Title; Andrea Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights”; and Steve McQueen’s “Shame,” all previously tipped.

But sources say the Venice competish also has a strong Asian flavor. It will include epic “Seediq Bale,” by Taiwanese box office champ Wei Te-sheng, whose “Cape No. 7” was pivotal for the local industry in 2008, and manga adaptation “Himizu” from cult Japanese helmer Sion Sono (“Love Exposure,” “Cold Fish”).

Flying the French flag, besides Polanski’s “Carnage,” will be “Poulet aux prunes” (Chicken With Plums), Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s first pic after “Persepolis,” along with Philippe Garrel’s previously tipped “A Burning Hot Summer,” a remake of sorts of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Contempt” that stars Monica Bellucci.

Chantal Akerman’s Cambodia-shot “La folie Almayer,” an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s “Almayer’s Folly,” is expected to unspool out of competition.

Greek helmer Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth”) is in competish with “Alps,” about a hospital nurse who provides unusual services to bereaved families, as is Israeli helmer Eran Kolirin’s “The Exchange,” his follow-up to “The Band’s Visit,” according to sources.

From Italy, Cristina Comencini’s “Quando la notte” and Emanuele Crialese’s “Terraferma,” both produced by Cattleya, and sci-fi parody “L’ultimo terrestre,” the helming debut of the Italo graphic novelist known as Gipi, are in the competition.

Pics that had been tipped for Lido launches but aren’t ready include new works by Walter Salles, Wong Kar Wai, Luc Besson, Brillante Mendoza and Fatih Akin.

Jonathan Demme’s Hurricane Katrina documentary “I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad and the Beautiful” and James Franco’s Sal Mineo biopic “Sal,” starring Val Lauren, are both believed to be in the cutting-edge Venice Horizons section.

As previously announced, George Clooney’s political thriller “The Ides of March,” from Sony, opens the fest in competish.

Cronenberg is vying for a Golden Lion with “A Dangerous Method,” starring Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud; Solondz is in the running with “Dark Horse,” starring Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken; Soderbergh is in contention with outbreak thriller “Contagion,” with Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law; and Sokurov is competing with his highly anticipated “Faust,” the fourth and final installment in his “Men of Power” series.

Harron’s “The Moth Diaries,” about a disturbed 16-year-old in an exclusive boarding school during the late 1960s, and Madonna’s dual romancer “W.E.” are both expected to unspool out of competition.

Fest runs Aug. 31-Sept. 10.

More Film

  • Father

    'Father': Film Review

    “Father” begins with a mother. Dragging her two sullen, uncomprehending kids along with her, Biljana (Nada Šargin) strides onto the grounds of the factory from which her husband was let go more than a year before and harangues the foreman about the severance package they still have not received. The children are hungry, she wails, [...]

  • Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm

    'Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street': Film Review

    In 1985, New Line rushed out a sequel to its breakout horror hit of the prior year. But while commercially successful enough, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” was initially disliked by mainstream horror fans, then later won cult status, for the same reason: It struck many as “the gayest horror film of [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    HBO Seeks Dismissal of Michael Jackson Estate's Suit Over 'Leaving Neverland'

    HBO urged an appeals court on Friday to throw out litigation brought by the Michael Jackson estate over the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland.” HBO and the Jackson estate have been locked in a legal war ever since the premium cable network agreed to run the documentary, which chronicles child sexual abuse allegations against Jackson. The [...]

  • Denzel Washington

    Film News Roundup: Denzel Washington-Rami Malek Thriller Set for Early 2021 Release

    In today’s film news roundup, a Denzel Washington-Rami Malek thriller gets a release date, “Escape Room 2” gets moved, Paramount sets a double feature, “So Cold the River” wraps and the Sonoma Film Festival unveils its lineup. RELEASE DATES Warner Bros. has set the Denzel Washington-Rami Malek police thriller “The Little Things” for a Jan. 29, [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Writers Guild Says It Helped Negotiate 100 Deals for Agent-Less Members

    The Writers Guild of America has asserted that it has assisted in negotiating more than 100 deals in recent months for members without agents. The missive from the WGA West board of directors comes nearly a year after the guild leaders ordered their 15,000 members to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed [...]

  • the jesus rolls

    Émilie Simon Contributes Flamenco/Gypsy Vibe to John Turturro's ‘The Jesus Rolls’

    For French musician Émilie Simon, the flamenco-meets-gypsy vibe writer-director John Turturro was seeking for the soundtrack to his movie “The Jesus Rolls” turned out to be in her musical and genetical DNA. “This music originally comes from where I grew up in the south of France,” says the 41-year-old electronic musician, who has released five [...]

  • My Hero Academia Heroes Rising

    'My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising' ADR Director on Adapting the Anime for a U.S. Audience

    “My Hero Academia” has officially Detroit Smashed into North American theaters. Sony Pictures Television’s Funimation released “Heroes Rising” in the U.S. on Wednesday, grossing $2.5 million on its opening day. Theaters are showing the film, a standalone entry in the popular superhero anime based on the manga, with options for either subtitles or with an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content