With Alberto Barbera back as artistic director, the Venice Film Festival unveiled its full lineup Thursday, and both Barbera’s remarks and his selections offered some pointed contrast to May’s Cannes roster and the upcoming Toronto slate.
The Lido’s 69th edition features 50 world preems, with established auteurs such as Terrence Malick, Brian De Palma and Olivier Assayas competing for the Golden Lion alongside lesser-known directors; femme helmers represented strongly in the official selection; and American indie cinema prominent with 11 entries, four of them in competition.
Barbera, replacing Marco Mueller, has returned as Lido topper after heading Venice between 1998 and 2001 and a stint overseeing Italy’s national film museum, and he seems determined to create a bold imprint right off the bat. He’s slimmed down the lineup, assembling a high-profile auteur-driven selection by taking the cream of the season’s crop, and he’s launching Venice’s first bona-fide film mart.
Underlining his highly selective spirit, Barbera even took a thinly veiled jab at Toronto topper Cameron Bailey at Thursday’s press conference.
“In preparing Venice I have very much admired and envied my friend and colleague who heads the Toronto Film Festival,” Barbera said. “He has an easy job: He can take 350 movies and therefore accept almost anything. We have chosen a much tougher path, in which, after lots of discussions, we had to say no a lot. And it was very tough.”
Barbera also pointed out proudly that there are 20 pics by female directors unspooling in Venice. Four entries from female helmers — Rama Burshtein, Francesca Comencini, Valeria Sarmiento and Jessica Woodworth — will vie for the Golden Lion; Cannes had none in competition this year. As previously announced, the fest will open with Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” screening out of competition.
Spearheading the U.S. competition contingent is Malick, back with “To the Wonder,” about a couple in a crisis after returning from a pilgrimage to a holy site in Italy. The R-rated “Wonder,” which does not yet have U.S. distribution, stars Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko (“Quantum of Solace”), Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem.
De Palma is on the Lido with “Passion,” a remake of 2010 French production “Love Crime” that stars McAdams and Noomi Rapace. The psychodrama, about a battle between a top corporate exec and her protege, is produced by Paris-based Said Ben Said’s SBS.
Ramin Bahrani’s farming-family drama “At Any Price,” starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron, and Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers,” which stars James Franco as a rapper named Alien, complete the U.S. competish contingent at present.
However, Barbera said he would soon announce an additional competition title that is strongly tipped to be Paul Thomas Anderson’s hotly anticipated “The Master,” toplining Philip Seymour Hoffman as a man who starts a faith-based belief system closely resembling Scientology, with Joaquin Phoenix as his right-hand man.
U.S. entries unspooling out of competition include Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep,” in which Redford plays a 1960s radical on the run and Shia LaBeouf the journalist pursuing him. The political thriller, produced by Nicolas Chartier’s Voltage Pictures and Wildwood Enterprises, does not yet have U.S. distribution.
Also screening out of competish are Jonathan Demme’s docu “Enzo Avitabile Music Life,” profiling the eponymous Neapolitan musician, and Spike Lee’s docu “Bad 25,” about the 25th anni of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album.
Yank helmer Henry-Alex Rubin (who directed docu “Murderball”) is unspooling his first feature, “Disconnect,” out of competish. Also noncompeting is Ariel Vromen’s hitman biopic “The Iceman,” starring Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta and Franco.
European entries giving Lido luster include Assayas’ 1970s coming-of ager “Something in the Air” (in competition), the Gallic auteur’s first feature since his Golden Globe-winning “Carlos”; Danish helmer Susanne Bier’s “All You Need Is Love,” an airy, Italy-set romancer unspooling out of competish and toplining Pierce Brosnan in a distinct departure from Bier’s foreign Oscar-winning “In a Better World” and other dark dramas; and Marco Bellocchio’s euthanasia-themed competition entry “Dormant Beauty,” in which Isabelle Huppert plays an over-the-hill actress who keeps her beautiful but comatose daughter alive.
Italy is also represented in competition by Sicilian multihyphenate Daniele Cipri’s Mafia drama “E stato il figlio” and Francesca Comencini’s “Un giorno speciale.” Both the Bellocchio and the Cipri pics star hot Italo thesp Toni Servillo (“Il Divo”).
Asian auteurs competing in Venice include Japan’s Takeshi Kitano, a Lido regular, bowing “Outrage Beyond,” his sequel to yakuza drama “Outrage”; Kim Ki-duk’s loan-shark drama “Pieta,” which the prolific South Korean auteur has described as his first commercial feature in four years; and Brillante Mendoza’s infertility drama “Thy Womb,” marking the Filipino helmer’s first return to the Lido since he was there in 2009 with “Lola.”
Competing from Israel is Burshtein’s “Fill the Void,” about an Orthodox Hassidic family from Tel Aviv facing a difficult marriage issue.
Rounding out the competition are “Paradise: Faith,” Austrian provocateur Ulrich Seidl’s follow-up to his Cannes-preemed “Paradise: Love”; “Superstar,” from French helmer Xavier Giannoli; “Linhas de Wellington,” a Portuguese-Gallic co-production from Chilean helmer Sarmiento; “La cinquieme saison,” a Belgian-Dutch-French co-production from helmers Peter Brosens and Woodworth; and “Betrayal,” the latest from Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov.
Standouts in the Lido’s competitive, more cutting-edge Horizons section include “Boxing Day,” a drama by U.K. helmer Bernard Rose; “Mr. Nice,” about a limo driver and his passenger who get stuck in the Colorado mountains, starring Danny Huston; timely Egyptian entry “Winter of Discontent,” which helmer Ibrahim El Batout (“Eye of the Sun”) started shooting during the first days of the Cairo revolution; and “The Millennial Rapture,” by Japanese maverick Koji Wakamatsu (“Caterpillar”).
In what is being touted as a first, Barbera said most entries in Horizons will also preem online via pay-per-view screenings for only 500 viewers available day-and-date with the pics’ Lido bows, and at the same screening times.
Michael Mann is heading the competition jury as previously announced.
Michael Cimino is expected on the Lido to attend a screening of a restored copy of “Heaven’s Gate,” unspooling as part of a selection of restored classics that launched at the fest. “Gate” world preemed at Venice in 1982.
The Lido’s first official market will be based on the first floor of the Excelsior Hotel, where a digital video library will offer up to 45 screening facilities to industryites. Accredited attendees will include some 100 buyers who are being flown in.
The 69th Venice Film Festival will run Aug. 29-Sept. 8.
OPENING FILM (OUT-OF-COMPETITION)
“The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” Mira Nair (U.S., Qatar)
“Something in the Air,”, Olivier Assayas (France)
“At Any Price,” Ramin Bahrani (US-UK)
“Dormant Beauty,” Marco Bellocchio (Italy-France)
“La cinquieme saison,” Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth (Belgium-Netherlands-France)
“Fill the Void,” Rama Burshtein (Israel)
“E stato il figlio,” Daniele Cipri (Italy-France)
“Un giorno speciale,” Francesca Comencini (Italy)
“Passion,” Brian De Palma (France-Germany)
“Superstar,” Xavier Giannoli (France-Belgium)
“Pieta,” Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)
“Outrage Beyond,” Takeshi Kitano (Japan)
“Spring Breakers,” Harmony Korine (US)
“To the Wonder,” Terrence Malick (US)
“Thy Womb,” Brillante Mendoza (Philippines)
“Linhas de Wellington,” Valeria Sarmiento (Portugal-France)
“Paradise: Faith,” Ulrich Seidl (Austria-France-Germany)
“Betrayal” (Izmena), Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia)
OUT OF COMPETITION
“L’homme qui rit,” Jean-Pierre Ameris (France)
“Love Is All You Need,” Susanne Bier (Denmark-Sweden)
“Cherchez Hortense,” Pascal Bonitzer (France)
“Sur un fil,” Simon Brook (France-Italy)
“Enzo Avitabile Music Life,” Jonathan Demme (documentary) (Italy/U.S.)
“Tai Chi 0,” Stephen Fung (China)
“Lullaby to My Father,” Amos Gitai (Israel/France)
“Penance,” Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Japan)
“Bad 25,” Spike Lee (documentary) (U.S.)
“O Gebo e a Sombra,” Manoel de Oliveira (Portugal-France)
“The Company You Keep,” Robert Redford (U.S.)
“Shark (Bait 3D),” Kimble Rendall (China)
“Disconnect,” Henry-Alex Rubin (U.S.)
“The Iceman,” Ariel Vromen (U.S.)
OUT OF COMPETITION — Special Events
“Anton’s Right Here,” Lyubov Arkus (documentary) (Russia)
“It Was Better Tomorrow,” Hinde Boujemaa (documentary) (Italy)
“Sfiorando il muro,” Silvia Giralucci and Luca Ricciardi (documentary) (Italy)
“Carmel,” Amos Gitai (Israel-France-Italy)
“El impenetrable,” Daniele Incalcaterra and Fausta Quattrini (documentary) (Argentina-France)
“Witness: Libya,” Abdallah Omeish (documentary) (U.S.)
“Medici con l’Africa,” Carlo Mazzacurati (documentary) (Italy)
“La nave dolce,” Daniele Vicari (documentary) (Italy-Albania)
“Wadjda,” Haifaa Al Mansour (Germany)
“The Paternal House,” Kianoosh Ayari (Iran)
“I Also Want It,” Alexey Balabanov (Russia)
“Gli equilibristi,” Ivano De Matteo (Italy)
“L’intervallo,” Leonardo Di Costanzo (Italy/Switzerland-Germany)
“Winter of Discontent,” Ibrahim El Batout (Egypt)
“Tango libre,” Frederic Fonteyne (Belgium-France-Luxembourg)
“The Cutoff Man,” Idan Hubel (Israel)
“Fly With the Crane,” Li Ruijun (China)
“A Hijacking,” Tobias Lindholm (Denmark)
“Leones,” Jazmin Lopez (Argentina-France-Netherlands)
“Bellas Mariposas,” Salvatore Mereu (Italy)
“Low Tide,” Roberto Minervini (U.S.-Italy-Belgium)
“Boxing Day,” Bernard Rose (U.K.-U.S.)
“Yema,” Djamila Sahraoui (Algeria-France)
“Araf — Somewhere in Between,” Yesim Ustaoglu (Turkey-France-Germany)
“The Millennial Rapture,” Koji Wakamatsu (Japan)
“Three Sisters,” Wang Bing (documentary) (France/Hong Kong-China)
HORIZONS SHORT FILMS
“Las manos limpias,” Carlos Armella (Mexico)
“The Flute,” Min Bham (Nepal)
“O Afinador,” Fernando Camargo and Matheus Parizi (Brazil)
“Resistente,” Renate Costa & Salla Sorri (Denmark-Finland-Paraguay)
“La sala,” Alessio Giannone (Italy)
“Marla,” Nick King (Australia)
“Miracle Boy,” Jake Mahaffy (U.S.)
“Living Still Life,” Bertrand Mandico (France-Belgium-Germany)
“Frank-Etienne vers la beatitude,” Constance Meyer (France)
“I’m the One,” Paola Morabito (Australia)
“Luisa no esta en casa,” Celia Rico Clavellino (Spain)
“Cargo,” Carlo Sironi (Italy)
“Invitation,” Yoo Min-young (South Korea)
“Out of Frame,” Yorgos Zois (Greece)
HORIZONS SHORT FILMS – CLOSING FILM
“Diamond Sutra,” Tsai Ming-liang (Chinese Taipei)
“L’homme qui rit,” Jean-Pierre Ameris (France)