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Cinema Italiano: 2015 Venice Film Festival Predictions

Now that we’ve come out of the Cannes ether, we can examine several of the names glaringly absent from the lineup that may potentially premiere on the Lido this fall. With controversial moves finding Garrel, Gomes, and Desplechin playing the Quinzaine, while Naomi Kawase and Apichatpong Weerasethakul got slotted in Un Certain Regard, we’re aggravated and pleased about some of this shifting around, but all in all, the main competition this year didn’t end up feeling like many programming risks were taken.

First off, to the general surprise of all, German director Maren Ade and British director Terence Davies were absent from the line-up, both with new highly anticipated titles (Toni Erdmann and Sunset Song respectively). Thierry Fremaux, arguably, tried to mix things up a bit with the Main Competition this year, inviting two female directors (Sacre Bleu!), including Valerie Donzelli and repeat offender Maiwenn (both titles met with a high degree of critical derision, though Donzelli’s title may recuperate acclaim later on), while also scheduling a female opener with Emmanuel Bercot’s Standing Tall. Yet, no room for Ms. Ade, only adding to a tradition of a meager inclusion of German titles on the Croisette.

Likewise, the absence of Terence Davies seems shocking, though his last feature, 2011’s The Deep Blue Sea actually went to Toronto first. Also dismaying, fellow Brit Ben Wheatley’s High Rise didn’t pop up, not even in the Quinzaine, a place we’d also hoped to see Andrzej Zulawski’s first film in fifteen years, Cosmos, take a bow.

Other notable Cannes omissions include Lucile Hadzhalilovic’s Evolution and Joachim Lafosse’s The White Knights, both tapped as certain (at the very least) sidebar entries. Lafosse has already started working on his next feature, so we assume Venice will be providing the premiere. Hungarian Benedek Fliegauf’s Lily Lane didn’t show up at Cannes either, so perhaps we’ll see this programmed this fall, as well as Argentinean Pablo Trapero with The Clan.

As for our Anglo-Saxons with projects on the horizon, Brian Helgeland’s Legend, top lined by Tom Hardy playing the Kray Brothers has a UK release schedule for September, so it might show up in Venice first. As for the Americans, Terrence Malick still has that other project to let loose, so maybe Weightless will finally show up here. If ready in time, perhaps Ana Lily Amirpour’s highly anticipated sophomore feature A Bad Batch will take a slot, while Jeff Nichols’ highly touted Midnight Special, which many had predicted for Cannes, will play here before its fall release stateside. Todd Solondz could possibly return with Wiener Dog, his first feature since 2011’s Dark Horse likely will be the as yet untitled latest from Kelly Reichardt and Gerardo Naranjo’s Viena and the Fantomes. The starry cast of Drake Doremus’ latest, Equals, could also make a bow here while Lenny Abrahamson’s Room starring Brie Larson has a legitimate shot. Other English speaking co-productions might include Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship and Werner Herzog’s Salt and Fire and Frederick Wiseman’s In Jackson Heights are already in post-production and may very well be unveiled here.

But if the French tend to lock out the German titles at Cannes, they sure as hell usurped Italy’s heavy-hitters, slotting Garrone, Moretti, and Sorrentino in the MC. Another auteur making an English language debut, Luca Guadagnino with A Bigger Splash, (see Dakota Johnson’s Vanity Fair’s pic above) was nowhere to be seen, but his last feature, 2009’s I Am Love played Venice, so maybe that’s not much of a surprise. Another Italian auteur that didn’t make it to Cannes is Marco Bellocchio, whose L’ultimo Vampiro will most likely snag a Venice berth (he’s already filming another feature, Fai Bei Sogni). Newcomer Pierro Massina, Sorrentino’s AD, has The Wait starring Juliette Binoche lined up, so this seems a shoe-in for Venice.

Other Italian auteurs we’re sure to see pop up might be Paolo Virzi with La Pazza Gioia, and less likely but worthy of mention is Giuseppe Tornatore with La Corrispondenza. Also possible is an adaptation of Nick Hornby from Andrea Molaioli with Tutto per una ragazza. Claudio Cuppellini’s Italian/French co-production Alaska should be ready in time for consideration. And then, 2013 Golden Lion Winner Gianfranco Rosi has another documentary that should be ready in time, Oltre Lampedusa.

Titles we’d assume to be ready for Venice that could very well hold out for Cannes 2016 might be Sean Penn’s The Last Face and Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Blessure, as well as Brady Corbet’s The Childhood of a Leader. We’d be happy to see Christophe Honore’s Sophie’s Woes appear at Cannes 2016, along with Paul Verhoeven’s first French feature, Elle, starring Isabelle Huppert (currently in post-production), but these represent a handful of titles whose premieres seem a bit more difficult to determine.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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