The 75th Venice Film Festival (August 29-September 8) line-up includes new features by Damien Chazelle, the Coen brothers, Alfonso Cuaron and more. Screen profiles the world and international premieres scheduled for the Competition section.
22 July (Nor-Ice) dir. Paul Greengrass
After Erik Poppe’s U-July 22 premiered in Berlin, Greengrass writes and directs the second — and much bigger-budgeted at $20m — feature film devoted to the horrific July 22, 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway by far-right militant Anders Behring Breivik. This Netflix project is based on the book One Of Us by Asne Seierstad, and stars Anders Danielsen Lie (Oslo, August 31st) as Breivik. Scott Rudin, Gregory Goodman, Eli Bush and Greengrass produce. The film marks Greengrass’s first time in Competition at Venice.
The Accused (Arg-Mex) dir. Gonzalo Tobal
Argentinian heavyweights K&S Films and Rei Cine produce Tobal’s crime drama The Accused (Acusada) alongside Telefé and Piano in association with Warner Bros. The film stars Lali Esposito and Leonardo Sbaraglia in the story of a student implicated in the murder of her friend. Argentina’s national film body INCAA and IFP’s No Borders are among the bodies that supported the project.
Contact: Film Factory Entertainment
At Eternity’s Gate (US-Fr) dir. Julian Schnabel
Willem Dafoe follows up his Oscar-nominated turn in The Florida Project by playing post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh in the latest project from artist/filmmaker Schnabel, who won Cannes’ best director prize in 2007 for The Diving Bell And The Butterfly. Oscar Isaac, Rupert Friend, Emmanuelle Seigner, Mathieu Amalric and Mads Mikkelsen co-star, with Schnabel’s longtime collaborator Jon Kilik producing. CBS Films is set to distribute in the US.
Contact: Rocket Science
The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs (US) dirs. Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
One of several features on Netflix’s outsized 2018 roster of outsized talents, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs hails from the Coen brothers and is an anthology of shorts based on a fictional book of western tales connected by the theme of mortality. A sprawling cast sees Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Brendan Gleeson, Tyne Daly, Tim Blake Nelson and James Franco among those hitching a ride on the Annapurna production.
Capri-Revolution (It-Fr) dir. Mario Martone
After Italian unification drama We Believed (2010) and unexpected arthouse hit Leopardi (2014), both in Competition at Venice, Neapolitan director Martone wraps what he has called an “unplanned trilogy” centring on utopian projects in Italy’s past. Set on Capri island in 1914, this collaboration between Rai, Pathé and Indigo Film follows a meeting between a shepherdess (Marianna Fontana) and a German proto-hippy community.
Contact: Mayalen de Croisoeuil, Pathé International
Close Enemies (Fr-Bel) dir. David Oelhoffen
Seasoned French screenwriter Oelhoffen scored heavily as a director in his own right with his Albert Camus adaptation Far From Men, which competed in Venice in 2014. Follow-up urban police thriller Close Enemies (Freres Ennemis) once again stars Reda Kateb, this time playing a cop whose childhood best friend (Matthias Schoenaerts) has followed a criminal path. When a deal goes wrong, loyalties are tested. Marc Du Pontavice (Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life) produces through his One World Films banner.
Contact: Bac Films
The Favourite (US-UK-Ire) dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
Last in Venice with the primarily Greek-language Alps (2010), Lanthimos returns to the festival following Cannes berths for The Lobster and The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult and Olivia Colman star in the story of British monarch Queen Anne (Colman) and her influential confidante and lover Sarah Churchill (Weisz). Element Pictures’ Ed Guiney and Ceci Dempsey of Scarlet Films produce with Lanthimos and Lee Magiday. The project was backed by Film4 and Waypoint Entertainment. Fox Searchlight has US rights, while Fox distributes internationally.
Contact: Fox Searchlight
First Man (US) dir. Damien Chazelle
Two years after dazzling the Lido with La La Land, the youngest winner of the best director Oscar returns with his space-race drama, reuniting with Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon. Worldwide distributor Universal co-financed with DreamWorks and has high hopes for Chazelle’s latest feature, which opens Venice on August 29 and lands in theatres in the US and UK on October 12.
Contact: Universal Pictures
Killing (Jap) dir. Shinya Tsukamoto
Marking his third Competition outing and his eighth film in Venice overall, Japanese cult director Tsukamoto’s latest mid-19th century-set effort is about a farmer’s son who aspires to become a samurai. The cast for Killing (Zan) includes Sosuke Ikematsu (The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always The Densest Shade Of Blue), Yu Aoi (Birds Without Names) and Tsukamoto himself. The filmmaker won the Horizons prize for Kotoko in 2011.
The Mountain (US) dir. Rick Alverson
Alverson makes his Venice Competition debut after his last two films (2012’s The Comedy and 2015’s Entertainment) bowed at Sundance. This 1950s-set drama stars Ready Player One’s Tye Sheridan as a young man who goes to work for Jeff Goldblum’s doctor — based on the controversial real-life physician Walter Freeman — who specialises in lobotomies and electro-shock therapy. The Vice Studios project co-stars Hannah Gross, Denis Lavant and Udo Kier.
International contact: The Match Factory US contact: 30West
Never Look Away (Ger) dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
German writer/director von Donnersmarck’s 2006 debut The Lives Of Others won multiple awards, including the best foreign-language film Oscar in 2007. Never Look Away (Werk Ohne Autor), his third film following 2010’s English-language actioner The Tourist, returns him to his German roots in its tale of an artist (Tom Schilling) tormented by memories of his East German childhood under the Nazis and GDR regime.
Contact: Beta Cinema
The Nightingale (Aus) dir. Jennifer Kent
Four years after her directorial debut The Babadook premiered at Sundance before winning multiple awards on the festival circuit, Australian writer/director Kent becomes the only female director in this year’s Competition with her follow-up. The period drama stars Aisling Franciosi as an Irish convict traversing the Tasmanian wilderness in 1825, determined to have her revenge on a British officer who attacked her family. Sam Claflin also stars. Screen International Future Leader 2018 Kristina Ceyton is one of the producers through her Causeway Films banner. Transmission will distribute in Australia.
International contact: FilmNation Entertainment US contact: Graham Taylor, Endeavor Content
Non-Fiction (Fr) dir. Olivier Assayas
French writer/director Assayas has long been a Cannes fixture, although 2012’s Something In The Air played in Competition in Venice, winning the Golden Osella for screenplay. Always an astute commentator on changing media landscapes, Assayas returns with Non-Fiction (Doubles Vies), which speculates on the crisis of the written word in a comedy about French literary life. Juliette Binoche plays the wife of a publisher (Guillaume Canet) facing a crisis as the internet threatens the printed novel, with Vincent Macaigne as a writer feeling the pinch.
Our Time (Mex-Fr-Ger-Den-Swe) dir. Carlos Reygadas
Mexican auteur Reygadas has shone in Cannes, most recently winning the best director prize in 2012 for Post Tenebras Lux. Six years later he makes his Venice debut with Our Time (Nuestro Tiempo), the story of a family in Mexico that raises fighting bulls and faces a crisis when the woman of the house falls for a horse trainer. The feature, whose co-producers include Film i Väst, Mantarraya Productions and Denmark’s Snowglobe Films, shot in Tlaxcala and Mexico City in 2016.
Contact: The Match Factory
Peterloo (UK-US) dir. Mike Leigh
Leigh won Venice’s Golden Lion with Vera Drake in 2004, after having reportedly been turned down by Cannes that year. Subsequent Leigh features premiered in Berlin or Cannes, but now he is back on the Lido with this story rooted in the events of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, when British forces attacked a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Manchester. The cast incudes Maxine Peake and Rory Kinnear. Thin Man Films’ Georgina Lowe produces, with backing from Film4 and BFI. Amazon Studios has US rights, while eOne releases in the UK.
Contact: Cornerstone Films
ROMA (Mex) dir. Alfonso Cuaron
Cannes’ loss is Alberto Barbera’s gain. Months after Thierry Frémaux failed to persuade Netflix to put aside its objections to France’s media chronology laws and bring ROMA to the Croisette, Cuaron’s first Mexico-set film since his 2001 Venice selection Y Tu Mamá También will debut on the Lido. The director last attended Venice with Gravity and subsequently won the directing Oscar — but the Golden Lion still eludes him. Could this black-and-white saga of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s be the one? Participant Media produced and financed.
The Sisters Brothers (Fr-Bel-Rom-Sp) dir. Jacques Audiard
Audiard follows his 2016 Cannes Palme d’Or winner Dheepan with his first English-language film, adapted with co-writer Thomas Bidegain from Patrick deWitt’s eccentric, award-winning neo-western novel of 2011. It stars John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as brothers who head out across Gold Rush-era America on a mission to kill one Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed). Shot in Spain by Benoit Debie, it also stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rutger Hauer. It is produced by Why Not Productions with backing from Annapurna Pictures.
Contact: Samantha Deshon, IMR International
Sunset (Hun-Fr) dir. Laszlo Nemes
After his 2015 debut Son Of Saul was a Jury Grand Prize winner in Cannes before claiming the Oscar for best foreign-language film, anticipation is high for Nemes’ follow-up. Set in pre-First World War Budapest, Sunset (Napszallta) stars Juli Jakab as an orphan carving out a life for herself in the city. The film was majority funded by the Hungarian National Film Fund.
Suspiria (It-US) dir. Luca Guadagnino
A remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 Giallo horror, Guadagnino’s notably feminist remake swaps the original’s lurid colours for a muted palette and stars Dakota Johnson as the American who arrives at a dance academy in Berlin during the height of political unrest in the 1970s. She catches the eye of school principal Tilda Swinton, unaware the place houses a coven of witches. Amazon Studios co-financed with K Period Media.
Contact: FilmNation Entertainment
Vox Lux (US) dir. Brady Corbet
Natalie Portman and Jude Law star in this tale of a pop superstar’s dramatic rise over nearly two decades. It is the second feature from Corbet, a stalwart of the US independent acting scene who won best director in Venice’s Horizons in 2015 for his feature debut, The Childhood Of A Leader. Producers include Christine Vachon of Killer Films, David Litvak and Michel Litvak of Bold Films and DJ Gugenheim and Andrew Lauren of ALP.
International contact: Jonathan Kier, Sierra/Affinity US contact: Mark Ankner, Endeavor Content
What You Gonna Do When The World’s On Fire? (It-US-Fr) dir. Roberto Minervini
Italy’s Minervini has never made a film in his home country, focusing instead on the dispossessed of the American South. Returning to Venice six years after Low Tide, following two Cannes appearances (Stop The Pounding Heart and The Other Side), the director scores his first A-list festival competition berth with this black-and-white film set among four Southern black communities in the summer of 2017, when police killings of African-Americans were dominating headlines.
Contact: The Match Factory
Profiles by Nikki Baughan, Ben Dalton, Charles Gant, Tom Grater, Elaine Guerini, Jeremy Kay, Lee Marshall, Wendy Mitchell, Jonathan Romney, Louise Tutt, Silvia Wong and Orlando Parfitt