As you read this, Marco Mueller and Cameron Bailey are screening furiously, horns locked in a bruising competition for world premieres which neither bothers to deny any more. It has started already, in a way: on the day Venice announced its opening title (Guiseppe Tornatore’s comedy Baaria), Toronto released news of its first films (none of them world premieres - yet).
So, what’s in and what’s out on the Lido?
Lights, camera, glamour!
There’s a lot about from the US.
With Tornatore opening, it would be foolish to dismiss the US remake of his Everybody’s Fine, with Robert De Niro in the Marcello Mastroianni role.
Neither can Lido favourites the Coen Bros be ruled out of a slot with A Serious Man,Steven Soderbergh’sThe Informant! with Matt Damon (which will make its international premiere in Toronto) or Mr Italy himself, George Clooney with Up In the Air for Jason Reitman.
Also believed to be a strong contender – and another comedy for a potentially merry Venice 66 - is Todd Solondz with Life During Wartime.
Other possibilities for Lido glamour include
- designer Tom Ford with his directorial debut A Single Man, based on the Christopher Isherwood fiction starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore
- horror The Box, from Donnie Darko’s Richard Kelly, could give out-of-competition glamour with Cameron Diaz, James Marsden.
- Extract, from Mike Judge, with Ben Affleck and Jason Bateman.
- Post-apocalyptic drama The Road, directed by John Hillcoat from a Cormac McCarthy story with Charlize Theron and Viggo Mortenson.
- The new Diablo Cody (Juno) screenplay - Jennifer’s Body, directed by Karyn Kusama and starring Megan Fox.
- Amelia, from Mira Nair, about Amelia Earhardt with Hilary Swank as the doomed solo pilot opposite Richard Gere and Christopher Eccleston.
- Whip It, Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, with Ellen Page, has been picked up by Fox Searchlight.
- Howl, with James Franco, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, stars James Franco as the poet Allen Ginsberg defending his poem Howl in an obscenity trial and could be ready in time for a fall festival showcase.
After a heavy Cannes for the region, new Asian titles may well be thin on the ground for Mueller, although Tian Zhuangzhuang’s epic Warrior And The Wolf with Maggie Q is well-positioned and a highly desirable objet for the festival chief, as is Clara Law’sLike A Dream. Yonfan’s Prince of Tears may well be packing its bags.
Francehas a good crop this fall. The new Jacques Rivette (La Belle Noiseuse) title, 36 Vues du Pic Saint-Loup with Jane Birkin and Sergio Castellito is said by those in the know to already have secured an invitation to Venice for the 81-year-old director (it would be his first time on the Lido).
Bruno Dumont (Flandres) Hadewijch has gone to Toronto for its world premiere, but there aksi Cedric Kahn’s Regrets.
Airwave chatter has been circulating about Patrice Chereau’sPersecution with Charlotte Gainsbourgh and Romain Duris, while Claire Denis (in Venice last year with 35 Shots of Rhum) has White Material, with Isabelle Huppert, could be ready in time, given the nod.
Also from France, it might be time for Sylvain Chomet’s title The Illusionist to make an appearance somewhere this fall. Another title on the missing list at the moment is Jaco Von Dormael’sMr Nobody.
From Austria, Lourdes, from Jessica Hausner, will almost certainly premiere in Competition at Venice – it has already been announced for Toronto as an international premiere.
Australia: BeautifulKate,Rachel Ward’s feature debut, went down a storm at Sydney and might turn up in Europe this fall (don’t forget San Sebastian).
Italians will want to see their national flag flying, and apart from Tornatore, Michele Placido’sIl Grande Sogno (The Big Dream), about the events of 1968, is ready and all-but confirmed, apparently.
From Canada, Atom Egoyan is ready with Chloe.
Irish eyes are brimming over….
Over in the UK/Ireland, Neil Jordan’sOndine has gone to Toronto and Danis Tanovic’sTriage may end up there too. But there’s very strong word on Ian Fitzgibbon’s (Adam And Paul) Perrier’s Bounty, a contemporary Dublin crime yarn with Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson.
Artist Sam Taylor-Wood might be more in Mueller’s auteur eyeline, though, with her debut, the John Lennon boyhood drama Nowhere Boy (Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist could be set for a Venice bow with debut Peppaminta as well – this is the year of the Biennale). Dramatist Stephen Poliakoff’s pre-World War II drama Glorious 39 is also ready (his directorial debut, Hidden City, premiered at Venice back in 1988).
Desert Flower, directed by Sherry Horman, with Liya Kebede as the Somalian refugee and best-selling author Waris Dirie, looks good for some sort of Venice slot, followed by Toronto.
Creation, directed by Jon Amiel and produced by Jeremy Thomas, with Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly as Charles Darwin and his wife Emma, is slated to open Toronto.
And also around are Oliver Parker’s Dorian Gray, with Ben Barnes, and Last Station – Helen Mirren as Tolstoy’s missus, James McEvoy as Bugalkov.
Shane Acker’s 9 (produced by Tim Burton), could be a contender, while Disney’s The Princess And The Frog is already confirmed for a work-in-progress screening on the Lido, alongside the Toy Story movies in 3D.
Auteur days, arthouse nights
Word has it that, though, in his second year of his second four-year-contract at the Lido, Mueller seems likely to follow-up last year’s auteur-driven festival with more of the same….Venice will make its full announcement on July 30