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Venice 2016: Competition

The full line-up of world premieres In Competition at Venice, with details on each title including sales contacts.

Arrival (US)
Dir Denis Villeneuve

A film from the French-Canadian director of Sicario, Prisoners and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel has become a major event. Arrival sparked a Cannes bidding war in 2014, when Paramount snapped up North American and Chinese rights for $20m, so hopes are high. The film stars Amy Adams as a linguist assigned to solve the mystery of an alien visit. FilmNation and Lava Bear financed Arrival and produced with 21 Laps.

Contact: FilmNation, cleopard@wearefilmnation.com

The Bad Batch (US)
Dir Ana Lily Amirpour

Following her debut feature A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, director Amirpour returns with this cannibal romance set in a dystopian US. The film was produced by Megan Ellison through her Annapurna Pictures banner, along with Danny Gabai of Vice Films and Sina Sayyah, who produced A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. The A-list cast includes Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Suki Waterhouse, Diego Luna and Jason Momoa.

Contact: Annapurna International, samanthad@annapurnapics.com

The Beautiful Days Of Aranjuez (Fr-Ger)
Dir Wim Wenders

Wenders has adapted a play by his Wings Of Desire co-writer Peter Handke for relationship drama The Beautiful Days Of Aranjuez, starring Reda Kateb and Sophie Semin, with a cameo by Nick Cave. The 3D film reunites the director with Portuguese producer Paulo Branco, who co-produced Wenders’ Golden Lion winner The State Of Things in 1982. Wenders’ winning streak on the Lido includes The Goalkeeper’s Fear Of The Penalty (1972) and Beyond The Clouds (1995), which both won the Fipresci prize, and Land Of Plenty (2004), which won the Unesco award.

Contact: Alfama Films, andrea.alfamafilms@orange.fr

The Blind Christ (Chile-Fr)
Dir Christopher Murray

This is the film to watch and Murray is the real deal, said Venice head Alberto Barbera ahead of the festival. Set in the Chilean desert, The Blind Christ is the story of an impoverished man (Michael Silva) who has believed since childhood that he is Christ. Produced by France’s Ciné-Sud Promotion with Augusto Matte’s Chilean company Jirafa, The Blind Christ is Murray’s third film following Manuel De Ribera (2010) and doc Propaganda (2014).

Contact: Film Factory, info@filmfactory.es

Brimstone (Neth-Ger-Bel-Fr-UK-Swe)
Dir Martin Koolhoven

In this dark western, Dakota Fanning plays a mute whose life is threatened by the appearance of a mysterious reverend (Guy Pearce). Brimstone is the English-language debut of Dutch director Koolhoven, whose most recent film was the 2008 war drama Winter In Wartime. Co-starring Game Of Thrones favourites Kit Harington and Carice van Houten, Brimstone is produced by Uwe Schott, executive producer on Cloud Atlas and the Oscar-winning Amour.

Contact: Embankment Films, info@embankmentfilms.com

The Distinguished Citizen (Arg-Sp)
Dirs Mariano Cohn, Gaston Duprat

Argentinian film-making duo Cohn and Duprat return with black comedy The Distinguished Citizen, about a Nobel prize-winning author who returns to the home town that has been the inspiration for his books, where the use of real people as characters in his novels comes back to haunt him. Oscar Martinez, star of Wild Tales and Paulina, takes the central role. Duprat and Cohn previously won the cinematography award at Sundance for dry comedy thriller The Man Next Door in 2010.

Contact: Latido Films, latido@latidofilms.com

Frantz (Fr-Ger)
Dir Francois Ozon

Marking the third time French auteur Ozon has been in the running for Venice’s Golden Lion — following 2004’s 5x2 and 2010’s Potiche — Frantz stars Paula Beer (4 Kings) as a young German woman mourning her fiancé, killed in the First World War, and César award-winner Pierre Niney (Yves Saint Laurent) as the Frenchman who also lays flowers at the grave. The film is produced by Ozon’s regular producers, Eric and Nicolas Altmayer of Mandarin Cinéma, and will be distributed in France by Mars Distribution.

Contact: Films Distribution, joris@filmsdistribution.com

Jackie (US-Chile)
Dir Pablo Larrain

Natalie Portman stars as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in this drama set in the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination in 1963. Darren Aronofsky, who directed Portman in 2010’s Black Swan, is a producer. Chilean director Larrain played in Venice’s Competition in 2010 with Post Mortem and is fresh from Cannes, where his period drama Neruda played in Directors’ Fortnight. Last year, Larrain’s The Club won a Silver Bear at Berlin and he picked up the CICAE award at Cannes in 2012 with No.

Contact: IMR International, ndevide@wildbunch.eu

La La Land (US)
Dir Damien Chazelle

After debut Whiplash propelled him to stardom, its Grand Jury prize victory at Sundance leading to three Oscar wins from five nominations, writer/director Chazelle returns with this story of a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play the leads, with JK Simmons, an Oscar winner for Whiplash, also in the cast. Venice chief Alberto Barbera cited the film as the most likely Oscar contender from this year’s selection (see interview, page 45).

Contact: Lionsgate Films, internationalsales@lionsgate.com

The Light Between Oceans (US-Aus-NZ)
Dir Derek Cianfrance

Six years after his breakout Blue Valentine premiered at Sundance, writer-director Cianfrance’s fifth feature casts hot properties Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as a couple living on a remote lighthouse, who discover a newborn baby aboard a drifting boat. Oscar buzz is steadily building around the drama, a co-production between DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Participant Media and Heyday Films.

Contact: Mister Smith Entertainment, sharrison@mistersmithent.com

Nocturnal Animals (US)
Dir Tom Ford

The US fashion designer’s second directing effort comes laden with expectation. After 2009’s A Single Man elevated Colin Firth to a new level and landed him his first Oscar nod, Focus Features stumped up $20m five years later in Cannes for worldwide rights to Nocturnal Animals. Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Armie Hammer star in the romantic mystery about revenge and regret.

Contact: FilmNation, ssaldana@filmnation.com

On The Milky Road (Ser-UK-US)
Dir Emir Kusturica

Following controversy earlier this year, when two-time Palme d’Or-winning director Kusturica reportedly said his latest film had been rejected from Cannes on political grounds — a claim he subsequently denied to Screen International — On The Milky Road bows at Venice with plenty of hype. Starring the director himself alongside Monica Bellucci, the film, which was shot over three years, chronicles three stages of a man’s life as he encounters war and romance before deciding to become a monk. Kusturica’s last fiction feature was 2007’s Promise Me This.

Contact: Wild Bunch, obarbier@wildbunch.eu

Paradise (Rus-Ger)
Dir Andrei Konchalovsky

Renowned Russian-US director and early Tarkovsky collaborator Konchalovsky has secured his fifth Golden Lion berth with this Second World War drama that follows a member of the French Resistance, a high-ranking SS officer and a French collaborator. Konchalovsky most recently took the Silver Lion with The Postman’s White Nights in 2014 and was previously in Competition with The First Teacher (1965), Maria’s Lovers (1984) and House Of Fools (2002), with the latter winning the Grand Special Jury Prize.

Contact: ARRI Media International, worldsales@arri.de

Piuma (It)
Dir Roan Johnson

London-born Italian director Johnson graduated from writing TV scripts to directing features in 2011, with his protest-generation road-movie debut The First On The List. Set in Rome, Piuma promises to be a kind of Italian Juno — a comedy drama about a high-school couple who decide to take on the challenge of becoming parents against the advice of pretty much everyone. Backed by the production muscle of Sky Cinema and Palomar, Piuma is being released in Italy by Lucky Red on October 20.

Contact: True Colours, catia@truecolours.it

Spira Mirabilis (It-Swi)
Dirs Massimo D’Anolfi, Martina Parenti

As with the other doc in Competition, Voyage Of Time: Life’s Journey, there appears to be a metaphysical bent to this sixth collaboration between D’Anolfi and Parenti. Described as a “visual sympathy”, it deals with the notion of immortality as achieved through aspiration and behaviour, with segments devoted to science, art, faith and feelings — and apparently a tribute to cinema thrown in for good measure.

Contact: The Match Factory, info@matchfactory.de

These Days (It)
Dir Giuseppe Piccioni

Returning to Venice’s Competition 15 years after Light Of My Eyes, director Piccioni has drawn on an unpublished novel by Umbrian author Marta Bertini for this self-penned women’s drama about four university girlfriends and their emotional road trip to Belgrade. A Rai Cinema, 11 Marzo Film and Publispei production, with local distribution handled by Bim, the film is stuffed with serious Italian talent from Piccioni (and Nanni Moretti) regular Margherita Buy to go-to intense leading man Filippo Timi.

Contact: Rai Com, marketing.com@rai.it

The Untamed (Mex-Den-Fr-Ger-Nor)
Dir Amat Escalante

Barcelona-born Mexican director Escalante won the best director prize in Cannes 2013 for the brutal Heli and is back in the fray with what sounds like another intense vision. Produced by regular collaborator Mantarraya, alongside Snowglobe, The Untamed kicks into life when a meteorite slams into the side of a mountain, triggering a social/sci-fi exploration of machismo, homophobia and the repression of women.

Contact: The Match Factory, info@matchfactory.de

Voyage Of Time: Life’s Journey (US-Ger)
Dir Terrence Malick

Malick’s latest film is a metaphysical documentary with an ambitious scope, covering the universe throughout the entirety of time from its birth until its death. The long-gestating project started out life as the subsequently abandoned Q in the late 1970s, and Malick has been working on the current incarnation for more than 30 years. It features narration by Cate Blanchett and a score by Ennio Morricone. Malick has also made a short version for Imax presentation, which is narrated by Brad Pitt.

Contact: Wild Bunch, obarbier@wildbunch.eu

The Woman Who Left (Phil)
Dir Lav Diaz

Inspired in part by Tolstoy’s short story God Sees The Truth, But Waits, Diaz’s latest marks the return to acting of Charo Santos-Concio, after she stepped down as CEO of ABS-CBN. Filmed in her home town of Calapan, Santos-Concio plays a woman whose struggles with the world’s inexplicable randomness have made her life akin to imprisonment. Written, edited and shot by Diaz, the four-hour film was produced by Sine Olivia Pilipinas and Cinema One Originals.

Contact: Films Boutique, gabor@filmsboutique.com

A Woman’s Life (Fr-Bel)
Dir Stéphane Brizé

Writer-director Brizé follows The Measure Of A Man (a Cannes best actor winner for Vincent Lindon) by adapting the Guy De Maupassant classic set in 19th century Normandy. A Woman’s Life stars Judith Chemla, a César nominee for Camille Rewinds (2012), as a sensitive young aristocrat confronted by the terrors of the real world. The TS Productions film continues Brizé’s relationship with distributor Diaphana, which will release in France on November 2.

Contact: MK2, intlsales@mk2.com

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