UPDATE with more details: Venice Film Festival chief Alberto Barbera was in Rome this morning to unveil the lineup for the 72nd running of the event (see full lists below) — and has come up with what looks like another tasty selection that has already been met with praise by watchers. Venice has proven itself a key primer for awards season in the past few years, with world premieres of such titles as Gravity, Birdman, Philomena, and The Master as the well-liked Barbera has successfully courted high-profile filmmakers, stars and studios to the Lido since his return to the helm three years ago. This year looks no different.
Studios indeed are embracing the glamour of Venice which offers the kind of photo-ops that make headlines around the world, and this year will not be short of stars. Indies — and Netflix — are also here, and many of the films in the main sections have already secured domestic distribution, hoping to ride the wave from the Grand Canal into the history books later down the line.
We already knew that Baltasar Kormakur’s visually stunning Universal/Working Title drama Everest opens out of competition with Jason Clarke and Jake Gyllenhaal on September 2; and Warner Bros’ Johnny Depp-starrer Black Mass is world premiering on September 4 — with what we hear is an awards-caliber supporting turn from Joel Edgerton.
With dates shifted later in 2015 — Venice runs from September 2-12 while Toronto kicks off September 10 – announcements from both fests came slightly later than usual. Toronto gave its first glimpse at the roster there yesterday which provided clues to today’s Lido selection.
As had been expected, Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight has a berth in Venice — out of competition — with Michael Keaton in a return to the Sala Grande after last year’s triumphant opening-night world premiere of eventual Best Picture Oscar winner Birdman. The story of the Boston Globe team investigating a Catholic Church sexual abuse cover-up is being released domestically by Open Road on November 6. This one could put Keaton back in the Oscar spotlight. If that happens, he could potentially be spending a lot of time on the circuit again with Eddie Redmayne whose Danish Girl is in competition on the Lido.
Headed to Toronto after Venice, Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, from Focus Features, stars last year’s Oscar-winner Redmayne in another awards-esque role. This time he’s playing one of the first men to ever undergo operations to become a woman. Alicia Vikander and Matthias Schoenaerts co-star. Schoenaerts, incidentally, is pulling double duty in competition with Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash. The psychological drama which Fox Searchlight has domestically, centers on a high-profile couple whose Italian vacation turns nightmarish. It also stars Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson.
Another Toronto-bound title, Beasts Of No Nation, scored a major fest coup for Netflix with the child soldier drama from Cary Fukunaga landing in competition. This one will have to slot in early in Venice to avoid a world premiere gazumping by Telluride. Barbera is no fan of jockeying for world premieres between festivals — he was stunned a few years back to see a handful of films that were slotted as Venice debuts sneak into Colorado before their Lido bows. Discussions were had last year amongst fest chiefs and transparency is the new name of the game — at least behind closed doors. Venice often frontloads its buzziest and starriest movies into the first few days — and holds one or two back for the end — so Beasts could screen on Day 2 (Setpember 3) with Days 1 and 3 reserved for Everest and Black Mass, respectively. Then, it’s likely off to Telluride as Deadline’s Pete Hammond has suggested.
Further titles in the competition lineup include Drake Doremus’ sci-fi drama with Kristen Stewart, Equals; Atom Egoyan’s revenge thriller Remember (A24) with Christopher Plummer, which also has a spot in Toronto; and Marco Bellocchio’s Sangue Del Mio Sangue (Blood Of My Blood), starring last year’s Best Actress Volpi Cup winner Alba Rohrwacher. Charlie Kaufman essays animation with Anomalisa; and Pablo Trapero’s crime family story El Clan from producers Pedro and Augustin Almodovar is high on watchers’ competition lists. Fox has it locally in Argentina.
One curious entry here is Xavier Giannoli’s comedy-drama Marguerite. It’s loosely inspired by the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, the heiress who wanted to be an opera singer, but had a cringe-worthy voice. Stephen Frears, a Lido regular, is currently directing Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in Pathé’s biopic Florence Foster Jenkins and is sitting out Venice this year. Instead, he’s headed to Toronto where his long-in-the-works Lance Armstrong pic The Program will debut.
A pic that’s been tipped for awards season and increasingly appears headed to Telluride — it is not in the Venice lineup — is Lenny Abrahamson’s Room. Starring Brie Larson, it sold out for FilmNation during Cannes with Universal taking multiple international territories.
Notable among the Out-Of-Competition titles beyond Everest, Black Mass and Spotlight is Daniel Alfredson’s Go With Me. A thriller set in the Pacific Northwest, it stars Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles and Ray Liotta. And, in what might just be a first for a major festival, Martin Scorsese’s 16-minute short, The Audition, is taking a vaporetto to the main stage. It’s actually a promotional film he made for a pair of casinos in Asia and features Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Brad Pitt.
Venice has a strong penchant for documentaries — one won the Golden Lion a few years ago — and isn’t skimping on them this time. Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow will be in town with their De Palma, while Amy Berg’s Janis also has a slot, and Frederick Wiseman returns with In Jackson Heights.
The Horizons sidebar, a competitive section that runs parallel, features buzzed-about The Childhood Of A Leader from Deadline 2014 actor-director to watch Brady Corbet and starring Robert Pattinson and Bérénice Bejo. Also one to keep an eye on is A Hijacking helmer Tobias Lindholm’s A War. The Danish drama from The Hunt and Borgen scripter follows an officer who is put on trial upon his return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Magnolia boarded domestic early.
Below are lists of the Competition, Out Of Competition and Horizons films.
Frenzy, dir: Emin Alper
Turkey, France, Qatar
Heart Of A Dog, dir: Laurie Anderson
Sangue Del Mio Sangue, dir: Marco Bellocchio
Italy, France, Switzerland
Looking For Grace, dir: Sue Brooks
Equals, dir: Drake Doremus
Remember, dir: Atom Egoyan
Beasts Of No Nation, dir: Cary Fukunaga
Per Amor Vostro, dir: Giuseppe M. Gaudino
Marguerite, dir: Xavier Giannoli
France, Czech Republic, Belgium
Rabin, The Last Day, dir: Amos Gitai
A Bigger Splash, dir: Luca Guadagnino
The Endless River, dir: Oliver Hermanus
South Africa, France
The Danish Girl, dir: Tom Hooper
Anomalisa, dirs: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson
L’Attesa, dir: Piero Messina
11 Minutes, dir: Jerzy Skolimowski
Francofonia, dir: Aleksandr Sokurov
France, Germany, Netherlands
El Clan, dir: Pablo Trapero
Desde Alla, dir: Lorenzo Vigas
L’Hermine, dir: Christian Vincent
Behemoth, dir: Liang Zhao
OUT OF COMPETITION
Everest, dir: Baltasar Kormakur (opening film)
Mr Six, dir: Guan Hu (closing film)
Go With Me, dir: Daniel Alfredson
U.S., Canada, Sweden
Non Essere Cattivo, dir: Claudio Caligari
Black Mass, dir: Scott Cooper
Spotlight, dir: Thomas McCarthy
La Calle De La Amargura, dir: Arturo Ripstein
The Audition, dir: Martin Scorsese
Winter On Fire, dir: Evgeny Afineevsky (documentary)
De Palma, dirs: Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow (documentary)
Janis, dir: Amy Berg (documentary)
Sobytie (The Event), dir: Sergei Loznitsa (documentary)
Gli Uomini Di Questa Citta Io Non Li Consoco, dir: Franceo Maresco (documentary) Italy
L’Esercito Piu Piccolo Del Mondo, dir: Gianfranco Pannone (documentary)
Vatican City State, Italy, Switzerland
Na Ri Xiawu (Afternoon), dir: Tsai Ming-liang
In Jackson Heights, dir: Frederick Wiseman (cumentary)
Human, dir: Yann Arthus-Bertrand (documentary)
GOLDEN LION FOR CAREER ACHIEVEMENT
Bertrand Tavernier, screening La Vie Et Rien D’Autre
Madame Courage, dir: Merzak Allouache
Algeria, France, UAE
A Copy Of My Mind, dir: Joko Anwar
Indonesia, South Korea
Pecore In Eerba, dir: Alberto Caviglia
Tempête, dir: Samuel Collardey
The Childhood Of A Leader, dir: Brady Corbet
UK, Hungary, Belgium, France
Italian Gangster, dir: Renato De Maria
Chaharshanbeh, 19 Ordibehesht (Wednesday, May 9), dir: Vahid Jalivand
Mountain, dir: Yaelle Kayam
Krigen (A War), dir: Tobias Lindholm
Visaarani (Interrogation), dir: Vetri Maaran
Free In Deed, dir: Jake Mahaffy
U.S., New Zealand
Boi Neon, dir: Gabriel Mascaro
Brazil, Uruguay, Netherlands
Man Down, dir: Dito Montiel
Lama Azavtani (Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me), dir: Hadar Morag
Un Monstruo De Mil Cabezas, dir: Rodrigo Pla
Mate-Me Por Favor, dir: Anita Rocha Da Silveira
Taj Mahal, dir: Nicolas Saada
Interruption, dir: Yorgos Zois
Greece, France, Croatia