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Tom Ford’s ‘Nocturnal Animals,’ Villeneuve’s ‘Arrival,’ new Kusturica Headed for Venice (EXCLUSIVE)

ROME — With one week to go before the 73rd Venice Film Festival reveals its lineup, two U.S. titles with awards buzz — Tom Ford-directed thriller “Nocturnal Animals” and Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi pic “Arrival” — are virtually assured a Lido launch.

Another hot U.S. title, Antoine Fuqua’s Western “The Magnificent Seven,” could also be headed to the fest, but is more uncertain.

And though festival artistic director Alberto Barbera is still making last-minute decisions, new features from prominent European auteurs Emir Kusturica (“On The Milky Road”) and Wim Wenders (“The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez”) are also very likely to be among the contenders vying for a Golden Lion, as is the latest work from French director Stephane Brize (“Une Vie”).

Word on what pics will surface on the Lido is particularly muted this year, indicating the usual uncertainty about titles being ready and Barbera’s down-to-the-wire decision-making.

Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals,” which is set in the L.A. art scene and the Texas criminal underworld, is the second film directed by the fashion designer. Two years ago at Cannes, Ford pre-sold world rights to the thriller, which stars Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, to Focus Features in a standout $20-million deal.

Adams will likely be doing double duty on the Venice red carpet.

Villeneuve’s “Arrival,” previously titled “Story of Your Life,” stars Adams as a linguistics expert recruited by the United States government after an alien spacecraft lands on Earth.

The fest’s announced opener, Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” a tribute to the Golden Age of American musicals which stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. “La La Land” will world-premiere in competition Aug. 31.

Kusturica’s “On The Milky Road” (pictured) is an adventure epic in which Kusturica himself plays a man at three different stages of his life, including as a wartime milkman who has a blossoming affair with a woman played by Monica Bellucci. This hotly anticipated pic is the Serbian director’s first fiction feature film since 2007’s “Promise Me This.”

“The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez,” by Wenders, who is a Venice aficionado, is based on a play by his “Wings of Desire” co-writer Peter Handke. Like “Wings,” it features a Nick Cave cameo. The play turns on a conversation about love between a man and a woman played by Reda Kateb and Sophie Semin.

More of a long shot for Lido play is the arrival at the fest of Chilean director Pablo Larrain’s “Jackie,” starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, depending on whether the biopic has completed post-production in time.

As previously announced, two episodes of Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s TV series “The Young Pope,” toplining Jude Law as conservative cigarette-smoking American pontiff Pius XIII, will world-premiere as an out-of-competition special event.

Several of the other Italian titles in Venice will instead focus on issues confronting Italian youth against the backdrop of the country’s economic crisis. They will almost certainly include Giuseppe Piccioni’s depiction of contemporary student life in the Italian provinces, “Questi giorni” (“These Days”); teen pregnancy drama “Piuma” by Italo-Brit writer and director Roan Johnson (“The First on the List”); and Daniele Vicari’s “Sole, Cuore, Amore,” (“Sun, Heart, Love”) about two young Roman women who make different life choices.

Tipped to represent the Arab world is Egyptian director Sherif El Bendary’s “Ali, the Goat and Ibrahim,” about a young man who believes that the soul of his late girlfriend, who died during the country’s revolution, has been reincarnated in a goat.

The Venice fest will run from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10. The lineup will be announced July 28.

Jay Weissberg contributed to this report.

 

 

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