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Venice Film Festival: Aronofsky, Arriaga, Denis, Kiarostami & Bahrani among the 65th edition

This year’s Venice Film Festival (Aug. 27-Sept. 6.) looks like what the top tier of the medal standings might be comprised of at the upcoming Olympic games.

This year’s Venice Film Festival (Aug. 27-Sept. 6.) looks like what the top tier of the medal standings might be comprised of at the upcoming Olympic games. Dominating the list of Main Competition selections, we have world premieres (with the exception of Mamoru and Miyazaki’s latest) that come from markets such as U.S, Italy France and Japan. With a drought of specs to showcase due to the strikes of early 08, and wrestling with Toronto’s Film fest and San Sebastien who managed to get their hands attention-getting titles like Winterbottom’s Genova, S.Makhmalbaf’s hard fought production of Two-Legged Horse, and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s and Kim Ki-Duk’s latest works, Venice has still managed to get some highly touted pics for its 65th edition.

If I’d have my two feet at the festival this year, my top five or six most anticipated films might be:

The Burning Plain: Guillermo Arriaga’s directorial debut consists of thematically connected storylines – a structure  we’ve seen before in his set up of Alejandro González Iñárritu with a trilogy of films starting with Amores Perros and ending with Babel. This stars Charlize Theron’s and uses two narrative to spins around a troubled childhood.

The Wrestler: Darren Aronofsky’s showcase of Mickey Rourke in his deloved boxing ring. Written by Robert Siegel, this centers a wrestling ring star who is in a career ending phase  – and if he takes on more fight its potentially lights out – for life. Marisa Tomei also stars.

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea: This is one of the two preems that are not world premieres – it has just been released in Hayao Miyazaki’s native country. The animated adventure centered on a 5-year-old boy and his relationship with a goldfish princess who longs to become human.

Burn After Reading: Announced a while back ago as the festival’s opener, I’ve had the time to enjoy the quirky trailer, and while I’m not expecting greatness a la No Country for Old Men, I’m happy to see George Clooney suit it up for the nutty comedy train with conductors Joel and Ethan Coen on board. The script is loosely based on the novel “Burn Before Reading: Presidents, CIA Directors, and Secret Intelligence,” by Admiral Stansfield Turner, who served as director of the CIA from 1977 to 1981. Clooney plays the killer.

35 Rhums: Claire Denis is back with vengeance (I think she directed pictures in one year?) with the out-of-comp title written by herself and Jean Pol Fargeau. This looks at how a father (Alex Descas) who raises his daughter alone after his wife’s suicide and tries to teach her that she must live her own life, despite the quite strong relationship between them.

Goodbye, Solo: Ramin Bahrani’s is hands down one of the more interesting voices in American Independent cinema (see his back catalog of Man Push Cart and Chop Shop). Featured as part of the Horizons category, this is about a Senegalese cab driver named Solo and an ornery 70-year-old man named William (actor Red West – a good friend of Elvis P.). William offers Solo $1,000 to drive him to a nearby mountain, where he plans to jump to his death.

Here is the entire line-up.

The Wrestler, dir. Darren Aronofsky (US)
The Burning Plain, dir. Guillermo Arriaga (US)
Il papa di Giovanna, dir. Pupi Avati (Italy)
BirdWatchers, dir. Marco Bechis (Italy)
L’Autre, dirs. Patrick Mario Bernard & Pierre Trividic (France)
The Hurt Locker, dir. Kathryn Bigelow (US)
Il seme della discordia, dir. Pappi Corsicato (Italy)
Rachel Getting Married, dir. Jonathan Demme (US)
Teza, dir. Haile Gerima (Ethiopia/Germany/France)
Paper Soldier (Bumaznyj Soldat), dir. Aleksey German Jr (Russia)
Sut, dir. Semih Kaplanoglu (Turkey/France/Germany)
Achilles And The Tortoise (Akires to kame), dir. Takeshi Kitano (Japan)
Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea (Gake no ue no Ponyo), dir. Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)
Vegas: Based On A True Story, dir. Amir Naderi (US)
The Sky Crawlers, dir. Oshii Mamoru (Japan)
Un giorno perfetto, dir. Ferzan Ozpetek (Italy)
Jerichow, dir. Christian Petzold (Germany)
Inju, la Bete dans l’Ombre, dir. Barbet Schroeder (France)
Nuit de chien, dir. Werner Schroeter (France/Germany/Portugal)
Inland (Gabbla), dir. Tariq Teguia (Algeria/France)
Plastic City (Dangkou), dir. Yu Lik-wai (Brasil/China/Hong Kong/Japan)

Out Of Competition
Puccini e la fanciulla, dir. Paolo Benvenuti (Italy)
Yuppi Du, dir. Adriano Celantano (Italy)
Burn After Reading, dirs. Joel & Ethan Coen (US) [opening film]
35 Rhums, dir. Claire Denis (France/Spain)
Cry Me A River (Heshang aiqing), dir. Jia Zhangke (China/Spain/France) [short]
Shirin, dir. Abbas Kiarostami (Iran)
Tutto e musica (1963), dir. Domenico Modugno (Italy)
Vicino al Colosseo…c’e Monti, dir. Mario Monicelli (Italy) [short]
Do Visivel ao Invisivel, dir. Manoel de Oliveira (Brasil/Portugal) [short]
Orfeo 9 (1973), dir. Tito Schipa Jr (Italy)
Les Plages d’Agnes, dir. Agnes Varda (France)
Vinyan, dir. Fabrice du Welz (France/UK/Belgium)
Encarnacao do demonio, dir. Jose Mojica Marins (Brazil)
Volare (Nel blu dipinto di blu) (1959), dir. Piero Tellini (Italy)

Goodbye Solo, dir. Ramin Bahrani (US)
A Erva do Rato, dirs. Julio Bressane & Rosa Dias (Brazil)
Parc, dir. Arnaud Des Pallieres (France)
Melancholia, dir. Lav Diaz (Phillipines)
Un lac, dir. Philippe Grandrieux (France)
Wild Field (Dikoe Pole), dir. Mikhail Kalatozishvili (Russia)
Il primo giorno d’inverno, dir. Mirko Locatelli (Italy)
Voy a explotar, dir. Gerardo Naranjo (Mexico)
Jay, dir. Francis Xavier Pasion (Philippines)
Pa-ra-da, dir. Marco Pontecorvo (Italy/France/Romania)
Zero Bridge, dir. Tariq Tapa (India/US)
Puisque nous sommes nes, dirs. Jean-Pierre Duret & Andrea Santana (France/Brazil) [documentary]
Women, dir. Huang Wenhai (China/Switzerland) [documentary]
In Paraguay, dir. Ross McElwee (US) [documentary]
Z32, dir. Avi Mograbi (Israel/France) [documentary]
Below Sea Level, dir. Gianfranco Rosi (Italy/US) [documentary]
Los Herederos, dir. Eugenio Polgovsky (Mexico) [documentary]
L’Exil et le royaume, dirs. Andrei Schtakleff & Jonathan Le Fourn (France) [documentary]
*two further Horizons titles will be announced later

Events Horizons [all documentaries]
Verso Est, dir. Laura Angiulli (Italy/Bosnia/Herzegovina)
ThyssenKrupp Blues, dirs. Pietro Balla & Monica Repetto (Italy)
La fabbrica dei tedeschi, dir. Mimmo Calopresti (Italy)
Soltanto un nome nei titoli di testa, dir. Daniele Di Biaso (Italy)
Antonioni su Antonioni, dir. Carlo Di Carlo (Italy)
Venezia ’68, dir. Antonello Sarno (Italy)
Valentino: The Last Emperor, dir. Matt Tyrnauer (US)

Out Of Competition, Special Events
Bajo el Signo de las Sombras (1984), dir. Ferran Alberich (Spain)
Vida en Sombras (1947), dir. Lorenzo Llbobet Gracia (Spain)
Ketto Takadanobaba (1937), dirs. Masahiro Makino & Hiroshi Inagaki (Japan)
La rabbia (1963), dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy) [previously unreleased version]

In collaboration with Far East Film Festival of Udine
Monster X Strikes Back: Attack The G8 Summit! (Girara no gyakushu / Samitto kiki ippatsu), dir. Minoru Kawasaki (Japan)
Queens Of Langkasuka, dir Nonzee Nimibutr (Thailand)

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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