Just four months and one week after being appointed to the job, Venice artistic director Moritz de Hadeln (pictured) has unveiled a glitzy roster of international premieres such as Julie Taymor's biopic Frida which opens the Venice 59 competition, Stephen Daldry's The Hours, Liliana Cavani's Ripley's Game and Steven Soderbergh's Full Frontal.
Calling the feat of assembling a festival in so short a time "a miracle," de Hadeln said he hoped to have respected the wishes of everyone, from the desire for "more glamour as well as the discovery of new talent."
As such, 19 first features are set to unspool at the Biennale, while guests expected to attend include Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Catherine Deneuve and Italian diva Sofia Loren, who will be returning to the Lido after a 20-year absence to support her son Edoardo Ponti's debut, Between Strangers.
De Hadeln chose to retain the double competition established last year by his predecessor Alberto Barbera, but underlined his desire to ensure that the differences between both sections are more clearly defined, with Venice 59 dedicated to more "classical" fare while Against The Mainstream (Controcorrente), the competition previously known as Cinema of the Present, offering more cutting-edge pictures.
Titles in Venice 59 include Sergej Bodrov's widely anticipated Bear's Kiss, as well as The Hours, starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep and Ed Harris, and Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things, with Amelie darling Audrey Tautou, Takeshi Kitano's new directorial effort, Dolls, Sam Mendes's Road To Perdition and Patrice Leconte's L'homme Du Train featuring veteran actor Jean Rochefort and iconic French rocker Johnny Hallyday.
Meanwhile, Against the Mainstream will feature Public Toilet by Fruit Chan, whose Hollywood Hong Kong last year premiered in the "classic" competition, as well as Claire Denis' Vendredi Soir with Vincent Lindon, Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-Ever, Arturo Ripstein's La Virgen De La Lujuria, Tian Zhuangzhuang's Springtime In A Small Town and Soderbergh's Full Frontal.
A broad selection of movies will premiere out-of-competition, including Clint Eastwood's Bloodwork, Kathryn Bigelow's K-19, Fine Line's widely-anticipated Ripley's Game, which was filmed on location in Venice and follows Tom Ripley 20 years after the events portrayed in The Talented Mr Ripley ; Todd Haynes's Far From Heaven with Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid, and Edoardo Ponti's Between Strangers.
Italian cinema will be well-represented with four films in competition: Michele Placido's Un Viaggio Chiamato Amore will be screened in Venice 59 as will Daniele Vicari's debut, Velocita' Massima and Piergiorgio Gay's La Forza Del Passato, while Sergio Rubini's L'anima Gemella will premiere in Against The Mainstream and Paolo Virzi's My Name is Tanino will screen out-of-competition.