La Mostra Internationale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia is one of the most elegant, popular, and interesting film festivals in the world: 11 days of new cinema that will delight movie lovers. The festival has five different sections: Venezia 67, Orizzonti, Controcampo Italiano, Luigi de Laurentiis, and Persol 3-D.
The most important section is Venezia 67, which offers the films competing for the Golden Lion and the actors competing for the Copa Volpi. Now, having Quentin Tarantino as president of the jury is reason enough to draw people’s attention. We all know how the director is: he likes different and attractive and that’s exactly what we’ll be able to see during this festival.
Some examples are Darren Aronofsky’s long-awaited (and possible festival winner) Black Swan, which opened the festival yesterday evening; it stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Vincent Cassel. In the trailer, we can see that Aronofsky returns to his origins — to the style of Pi and Requiem For A Dream that made him one of the directors to watch. Black Swan is a psychological thriller that revolves around the world of ballet and tells the story of Nina (Portman), a perfection-obsessed ballerina who fights against Lily (Kunis) for a spot in a new production. This is not a musical but an exploration of the mind, of how perfection and ambition can obsess and push a person into a deep crisis.
Another attraction in Venice is Sofia Coppola’s first film since Marie Antoinette. Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, and Benicio del Toro, explores the relationship between a father — a hard-living Hollywood actor played by Dorff — and his daughter (Fanning) after the latter visits him by surprise. It’s inevitable not to think about the personal connotations of this movie for Coppola (she’s daughter of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola) and the recurring concern of the director about creating stories revolving around fame.
Julian Schnabel presents a dramatic vision of a Palestinian girl growing up in the first Arab-Israeli War in Miral. The director offers the audience a political drama and reinforces it with Freida Pinto, Willem Dafoe, and Vanessa Redgrave. German filmmaker Tom Tykwer wants to repeat the success that the fantastic Run, Lola, Run had in 1998 with Drei. Finally, François Ozon returns to Venice to present Potiche. Once more, Ozon counts on his muse, Catherine Deneuve, in this comedy based on a 1970s hit comic play of the same name. Completing the cast are Gerard Depardieu and Judith Godreche, seen next with Leonardo Di Caprio in The Man In The Iron Mask. Other titles in Venezia 67 are Balada Triste de Trompeta by Spaniard Alex de la Iglesia and Vincent Gallo’s Promises Written In Water, and La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi starring Isabella Rossellini.
In the section Orizzonti (chaired by Shirin Neshat) it is important to point out El Pozo by Babel screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, Stardust by Nicolas Provost, the second part of a trilogy which investigates the limitations between fiction and reality and that includes collaborations with Dennis Hopper, Jon Voight, and Jack Nicholson. The prolific Manoel de Oliveira presents Panéis de Sao Vicente de Fora, Visao Poetica. Controcampo Italiano (chaired by Valerio Mastandrea) is exclusively centered on the new trends in Italian cinema; Luigi de Laurentiis (chaired by Fatih Akin) is centered on the debuting directors, and Persol 3-D (chaired by Shimizi Takashi) is focused on creative 3D films.
These five sections will comprise the official award categories of La Mostra, but it’s also nice to mention the section Italian Comedy, a special retrospective on Italian comedy from 1910 through 1988 and all the movies out of competition. And what’s interesting to see in this last section?
Well, first off, let’s go back in time a little. Do you remember the erratic behaviour of Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman’s show during the promotion of Two Lovers? What was going on? Some said he had lost his mind; others said he was acting. The answer is he was working under the orders of Casey Affleck for the documentary I’m Still Here, a portrait of an artist who decides to reinvent himself and a vision of how public life affects him. Casey’s brother Ben also travels to Venice to present The Town, starring Jon Hamm, Affleck himself, and Rebecca Hall. Another pair of brothers, Oxide and Danny Pang, present The Child’s Eye 3D. Robert Rodriguez presents Machete, starring Jessica Alba, Martin Scorsese presents A Letter to Elia, a documentary dedicated to the life of Elia Kazan, and on the closing night we’ll see Helen Mirren taking the role of Prospera, not Prospero, in Julie Taymor’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Finally, John Woo, director of films such as Broken Arrow, Face/Off, and Mission: Impossible II, will be presented the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, a well deserved homage indeed!
Who do you think will be the winners at Venice? Which movies are you most interested in?