The 79th Venice Film Festival is just around the corner, and now the full line-up has been announced.
At a one-hour and twenty-minute press conference yesterday, the Venice Film Festival’s President, Roberto Cicutto, and Director, Alberto Barbera introduced the films that will do the rounds at the Lido this year.
Though there is no massive blockbuster headlining the festival - such as 2019’s Joker and last year’s Dune - the packed roster includes dozens of big names, major film studios and Venice stalwarts. Actors Cate Blanchett, Harry Styles, Timothée Chalamet and Greta Gerwig are just some of the actors confirmed to be attending the festival.
Martin McDonagh - whose Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was awarded Best Screenplay in 2017 before it went on to win two Oscars - will be presenting The Banshees of Inisherin. It’s a story about what happens between two friends when one of them abruptly ends their relationship, which stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
Alejandro G Iñárritu, who won an Oscar for Birdman, is presenting the Netflix-backed Spanish-language film Bardo. It follows the story of a Mexican journalist who returns home and then has to get to grips with the different components of his life.
Timothée Chalamet will reunite with the Call Me by Your Name director who launched his career, in new film Bones and All. Luca Guadagnino’s new film will also star Taylor Russell (Escape Room) and Chloë Sevigny and follows the love story between two disenfranchised youths as they travel around America.
Speaking about his forthcoming film, Guadagnino said: “The movie is for me a meditation on who I am and how I can overcome what I feel, especially if it is something I cannot control in myself. And lastly, and most importantly, when will I be able to find myself in the gaze of the other?”
Ones to watch
Tár by Todd Field stars Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, the first female chief conductor of one of Germany’s most prestigious orchestras - and the film is already getting an Oscar buzz. As well as a star-cast that includes Mark Strong and Julian Glover, Hildur Guðnadóttir, who made the music forJoker, is on board as the film’s composer.
French director and novelist Florian Zeller, whose acclaimed play The Father was turned into a 2020 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, and went on to win two Oscars, will be presenting The Son. The film has a packed cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Vanessa Kirby, Laura Dern and Anthony Hopkins and tells the story of what happens when a man’s ex-wife and teenage son turn up, causing disarray to his new life.
Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, will also be showing at the festival. The film has been making waves for weeks, partly because Wilde was served divorce papers while on stage speaking about the new film and partly because it stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, Gemma Chan and Chris Pine. The psychological horror-thriller tells a story that seems half Stepford Wives and half The Truman Show: a housewife lives in a town in the 1950s and gets consumed by the small cracks which start to appear in her perfect life.
Other films on the roster which are getting a lot of traction are Alice Diop’s Saint Omer. It tells the story of a novelist who attends a trial in order to use the story to write a modern-day adaptation of the myth of Medea. Things, predictably, don’t go to plan.
Then, Penelope Cruise will star in Emanuele Crialese’s L’Immensità. The drama film is set in 1970s Rome and tells the tale of the Borghetti family when they move into a new apartment block. Crialese’s 2011 film Terraferma was also shown at the Lido before going on to be selected as the Italian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards.
There is also excitement building around Iranian director Vahid Jalilvand’s film Beyond the Wall. Jalilvand’s second film, 2017’s No Date, No Signature won him that year’s Orizzonti Award for Best Director at Venice.
It comes as no surprise that Netflix has films showing at the festival, but what is perhaps surprising is how important that the streaming giant has become at Venice, with Andrew Dominik’s Blonde, a biopic about Marilyn Monroe starring Ana de Armas, leading the line-up.
Netflix will also open the festival with Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, a black comedy horror drama based on Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel of the same name. It will star Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig.
French filmmaker Romain Gavras, who is perhaps best known for directing MIA’s Bad Girls music video and Jay-Z and Kanye West’s No Church in the Wild video, will be showing his Netflix-backed film Athena which follows the lives of three siblings after their youngest brother dies.
Speaking to Variety, Barbera said: “At the moment, Netflix is the most aggressive and important player in this field.
“They’ve become among the biggest producers of contemporary auteur cinema. They produce more auteur films than all the studios combined.”
A24 arrives at Venice
The film studio A24 is also showing three films at this year’s festival: The Whale, a story about a 42-stone man who tries to reconnect with his daughter from director Darren Aronofsky, Pearl from director Ti West, which has Mia Goth reprising her role as the villainous Pearl, and Joanna Hogg’s The Eternal Daughter. The film will star Carly-Sophia Davies, Tilda Swinton and Joseph Mydell.
Previously, A24 had declined to show its films at Venice. Speaking to Variety, Barbera said: “Their attitude has changed. They’ve always had a very interesting line-up, but I was never able to convince them to invest in Venice. Luckily, that’s changed this year.”
Does politics play a part?
During the press conference Barbera spoke about Russia and Ukraine’s war, commenting on the “European democracies threatened by Putin’s imperialism.”
Documentary Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom from director Evgeny Afineevsky is included in this year’s line-up.
Russian filmmakers were not banned from the festival, but films that were backed by the Russian state would not be included in the final selection.
Speaking about the issue, Barbera said: “We received very few films from Russia this year. There was only one Russian film I saw that I really liked, but it was funded by the Russian government so we couldn’t take it.”
There are also four titles from Iran, including Jafar Panahi’s No Bears. During the conference Barbera stated his support for the Iranian directors saying that they are “only guilty of using their right to freedom of expression.”
How do the awards work?
This year the Jury is going to be headed up by Julianne Moore. There are eight major prizes at the festival, the most prestigious being the Golden Lion (Leone d’Oro) which goes to the festival’s best competition film. Last year it was awarded to Audrey Diwan’s French film Happening. Then the Grand Jury Prize is awarded to the runner-up, while the Special Jury Prize is awarded to the third best film.
The Silver Lion (Leone d’Argento) is the highest prize offered to the best director in the competition section, the Volpi Cup (Coppa Volpi) is given to the best actor, the Golden Osella is either awarded for the Best Screenplay or for the Best Technical Contribution and there is a Marcello Mastroianni Award which is for the best emerging actor.
Finally, the Special Lion is awarded for an overall work to a director or actor of a film presented in the main competition section.
The full line-up
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed − Laura Poitras
Argentina, 1985 − Santiago Mitre
Athena − Romain Gavras
The Banshees of Inisherin − Martin McDonagh
Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths) − Alejandro G Iñárritu
Beyond the Wall − Vahid Jalilvand
Blonde − Andrew Dominik
Bones and All − Luca Guadagnino
Chiara − Susanna Nicchiarelli
A Couple − Frederick Wiseman
The Eternal Daughter − Joanna Hogg
L’Immensità − Emanuele Crialese
Love Life − Kôji Fukada
Monica − Andrea Pallaoro
No Bears − Jafar Panahi
Other People’s Children − Rebecca Zlotowski
Our Ties − Roschdy Zem
Saint Omer − Alice Diop
Il Signore delle formiche − Gianni Amelio
The Son − Florian Zeller
Tár − Todd Field
The Whale − Darren Aronofsky
White Noise − Noah Baumbach
Out of competition – fiction films
Call of God − Kim Ki-duk
Dead for a Dollar − Walter Hill
Don’t Worry Darling − Olivia Wilde
Dreamin’ Wild − Bill Pohlad
Siccità − Paolo Virzì
The Hanging Sun − Francesco Carrozzini
Living − Oliver Hermanus
Master Gardener − Paul Schrader
Pearl − Ti West
When the Waves Are Gone − Lav Diaz
Out of competition – documentaries
Bobi Wine Ghetto President − Christopher Sharp, Moses Bwayo
A Compassionate Spy − Steve James
Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom − Evgeny Afineevsky
In Viaggio − Gianfranco Rosi
The Kiev Trial − Sergei Loznitsa
The Matchmaker − Benedetta Argentieri
Music For Black Pigeons − Jørgen Leth, Andreas Koefoed
Nuclear − Oliver Stone
Gli Ultimi Giorni Dell’Umanità − Enrico Ghezzi, Alessandro Gagliardo
Look At Me − Sally Potter
Maid − Lucretia Martel
Copenhagen Cowboys − Nicolas Winding Refn
The Kingdom Exodus − Lars von Trier
The Venice Film Festival 2022 will run from August 31 to September 10