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Italy's innovative cinema selection 'Venezia 71' embarks on the Venice Lido

PASOLINI - ABEL FERRARA. Willem Dafoe as Pasolini.
PASOLINI - ABEL FERRARA. Willem Dafoe as Pasolini.
Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia. Printed with permission.

Venice Film Festival

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The Venice Film Festival , the 71st edition of the oldest film festival in the world, is in full navigation since Aug 27 and will continue through Sept 6. There are 54 world premieres at this festival, unprecedented from previous years. The Venice event features innovative works that often fall within the realm of art house and experimental film.

Venice Film Festival features 55 world premiers
Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia, used with Permission

The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement awards will be given to Thelma Schoonmaker and Frederick Wiseman. Schoonmaker is a talented film editor with three Oscars ('Raging Bull', 'The Aviator', 'The Departed') and two BAFTAs ('Raging Bull', 'Goodfellas'). The Golden Lion has never before been given to a film editor. Frederick Wiseman is a documentary filmmaker with over 39 films. His non-intrusive sedentary film style of placing a camera in a location and then letting the subjects unfold has been critically acclaimed, not least by Italian cinephiles who love his work.

The official lineup, Venezia71, includes several noteworthy auteurs:

  • ALEJANDRO GONZÁLEZ IÑÁRRITU - 'BIRDMAN (OR THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)' USA, is the OPENING FILM starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts. A tightly constructed film about a former blockbuster star , Birdman (Keaton) who attempts a comeback on Broadway in a play based on a short story by American writer Raymond Carver.
  • FATIH AKIN from Germany– previous winner of the Golden Bear at Berlin has made a new film called 'THE CUT' starring the talented young actor Tahar Rahim, who was remarkable in "The Prophet" (France 2009) directed by Jacques Audiard. Set in 1915, Akin's new film is about a blacksmith separated from his daughters during the Armenian genocide who tries to find them later.
  • From Sweden ROY ANDERSSON brings 'EN DUVA SATT PÅ EN GREN OCH FUNDERADE PÅ TILLVARON (A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE)' (Sweden, Germany, Norway, France). It has been a while since Andersson made a film and usually his films win top awards, like "Songs from the Second Floor" presented in Cannes in 2000 that won the Grand Jury Prize. The iconography of his latest film seems to be consistent with the Swedish filmmaker's previous work, with a faded almost lime green cinematographic hue and desolate, angst-ridden characters.
  • French director XAVIER BEAUVOIS previously won the grand jury prize in 2010 for "God and Men" about a group of Trappist monks in Algeria who decide to remain in a terrorist threatened area. This year he brings to Venice 'LA RANÇON DE LA GLOIRE – The Price of Fame' (France, Belgium, Switzerland). The film set in a small town in Switzerland concerns a small time crook who comes up with a plan to still the corpse of Charlie Chaplin whose death has just been announced.
  • Also noteworthy in the lineup is US Filmmaker ABEL FERRARA who will present his new film 'PASOLINI 'about the late Italian director (France, Belgium, Italy). The innovative film is tipped off to be a strong contender for the Golden Lion. The film, which has already been sold to an Italian distributor after a sneak preview in Cannes in May, is about Pier Paolo Pasolini's last day on earth, Nov. 2, 1975 when he was murdered in a Rome suburb by Pino Pelosi and "others". The film stars Willem Dafoe as Pasolini, Ninetto Davoli who previously worked with Pasolini as lead actor in many of his films and Maria de Medeiros. Davoli was recently a special guest of the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco last September for a program of Pasolini's films.
  • Also in the lineup is DAVID GORDON GREEN -'MANGLEHORN' (USA) starring Al Pacino and Holly Hunter. Pacino. a favorite in Venice, plays a man down on his luck who is starting all over again.

The other divisions at the Venice festival are "Orrizzonti" – the horizon section with new innovations in film , the out of competition films , Venice Classics – restored classic films and documentaries, seven films from the International Critics' Week and an independent section entitled Venice Days. Noteworthy from the Orrizzonti division is a new film by Mosen Makmalbaf's 'The President',the opening film of this division in a powerful story of a fallen autocrat and his innocent grandson who disguise themselves in the city where his regime has toppled.

In the Venice Days division are two films worthy of mention; Lauren Cantent, Palme d’or winner for 'The Class' (2008) who will bring his new film 'RETOUR À ITHAQUE' - Return of Ithica, and CHRISTOPHE HONORÉ , director of 'MÉTAMORPHOSES'. Honoré was nominated for a Palme D’or for 'Love Songs' at Cannes starring Ludivine Sagnier, Chiara Mastroianni and Louis Garrel.

"9 X 10 NOVANTA is a "SPECIAL EVENT" at this year's festival with nine directors including the Italian director Alice ROHRWACHER, who won the Grand jury prize at Cannes in May for 'The Wonders'.

This year's jury is presided over by President Alexandre Desplat, film composer, France. The jury members are:

  • Elia Suleiman, director, Palestine
  • Philip Gröning, director, Germany
  • Carlo Verdone, actor and director, Italy
  • Joan Chen, actress, San Francisco USA and China
  • Jessica Hausner, scriptwriter and director, Austria
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, scriptwriter, UK
  • Sandy Powel, costume designer, UK
  • Tim Roth, actor, UK

The complete Venezia71 official lineup:

  • 3 Coeurs, Benoît Jacquot, France
  • 99 Homes, Ramin Bahrani, USA
  • Anime Nere (Black Souls), Francesco Munzi, Italy and France
  • Белые ночи почтальона Алексея Тряпицын Belye nochi pochtalona Alekseya Tryapitsyna (The Postman's White Nights), Andrei Konchalovsky, Russia
  • 闯入者 Chuangru Zhe (Red Amnesia), Xiaoshuai Wang, China
  • En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron (A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence), Roy Andersson, Sweden, Germany, Norway and France
  • قصه ها Ghesseha (Tales), Rakhshan Bani E'temād, Iran
  • Good Kill, Andrew Miccol, USA
  • Hungry Hearts, Saverio Costanzo, Italy
  • Il Giovane Favoloso, Mario Martone, Italy
  • La rançon de la gloire (The Price of Fame), Xavier Beauvois, France, Belgium and Switzerland
  • Le dernier coup de marteau (The Last Hammer Blow), Alix Delaporte, France
  • Loin des Hommes (Far From Men), David Oelhoffen, France
  • Manglehorn, David Gordon Green, USA
  • 野火 Nobi (Fires on the Plain), Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan
  • Pasolini, Abel Ferrara, France, Belgium and Italy
  • (*) Sivas, Kaan Müjdeci, Turkey
  • The Cut, Fatih Akin, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Canada, Poland and Turkey
  • The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Norway and UK (documentary)