Screen gears up for the Venice Film Festival’s 2011 edition, which promises to kickstart the annual awards season.



Dir Abel Ferrara

Ferrara won the Special Jury Prize at Venice in 2005 with Mary, and the director returns to the Lido with a drama about the final hours of a Manhattan couple as they face the end of the world. 4:44 was produced by Fabula, Funny Balloons and Wild Bunch, and stars Willem Dafoe, Shanyn Leigh and Paz de la Huerta.

Sales Funny Balloons -; Wild Bunch -


Dir Yorgos Lanthimos

Dogtooth, Lanthimos’ exploration of an isolated Greek family, was awarded the top Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes in 2009 and went on to earn a foreign-language Oscar nomination. Interest in his follow-up will be high. Alps (Alpeis) tells the story of a nurse, a paramedic, a gymnast and her coach, who have formed a company called Alps and stand in for dead people by appointment.

Sales The Match Factory -

CARNAGE (Fr-Ger-Sp-Pol)

Dir Roman Polanski

A change of gear for Polanski after The Ghost Writer (aka The Ghost). Carnage, based on a French play by Yasmina Reza, is a comedy about two families who meet after their sons are involved in a schoolyard brawl. The cast includes Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C Reilly, so the film will be a major attraction on the Lido. Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American rights. It is produced and sold by Said Ben Said’s SBS Productions.

Sales SBS Productions -


Dirs Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud

Satrapi and Paronnaud chalked up an Oscar nomination for their animation Persepolis in 2008, and interest is high in their live-action follow-up. Like Persepolis, Chicken With Plums is based on a graphic novel by Satrapi, about a celebrated violin player in Tehran, 1958, who gives up on life after his instrument is broken. Isabella Rossellini and Mathieu Amalric star in the film, which shot at Studio Babelsberg in Germany and was produced by Celluloid Dreams, The Manipulators and others. The film has been presold to France, Benelux, Germany and Switzerland.

Sales Celluloid Dreams/Studio 37 -


Dir David Cronenberg

A film about the fathers of psychoanalysis from Cronenberg is an intriguing proposition, and seller HanWay has already closed deals with Sony Pictures Classics for the US, Lionsgate for the UK as well as UPI for multiple territories. Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender and Vincent Cassel star in the film, about a beautiful patient who seduces Carl Jung and his mentor, Sigmund Freud. Produced by Jeremy Thomas, Christopher Hampton adapted the screenplay from his own play.

Sales HanWay Films -


Dir Todd Solondz

Solondz’s Life During Wartime won the screenplay prize at Venice in 2009. He returns this year with Dark Horse, a film about a thirtysomething man with arrested development who falls for a thirtysomething woman — but moving out of his junior high-school bedroom proves too much. Tragedy ensues. The film stars Jordan Gelber and Selma Blair, alongside Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken, Justin Bartha and Donna Murphy. It was produced by Ted Hope and Derrick Tseng. Goldcrest Films has closed deals to Australia and New Zealand (Village Roadshow) and Scandinavia (Svensk), among others.

Sales Goldcrest Films International -


Dir Eran Kolirin

Kolirin’s debut feature The Band’s Visit was an international breakout in 2007, and the director returns with an existential drama about a middle-aged man who goes home in the middle of the day and finds everything has changed. Produced by Eilon Ratzkovsky’s July August Productions and co-produced by Germany’s Pandora Filmproduktion, The Exchange (Hahithalfut) was shot largely in Germany. Pandora will release in Germany, and Pyramide will release in France.

Sales The Match Factory -

FAUST (Rus-Ger)

Dir Alexander Sokurov

The final part of Sokurov’s tetralogy about the corruption of power — which has included Moloch, Taurus and The Sun — Faust is a radical interpretation of Goethe’s tale of a man who sells his soul to the devil. Produced by Proline Film Production, the German-language film stars Johannes Zeiler, Anton Adasinsky, Isolda Dychauk, Georg Friedrich and Hanna Schygulla.

Sales Films Boutique -


Dir Sion Sono

Himizu, from cult Japanese film-maker Sono, is one of three titles in competition based on comic books or graphic novels. Adapted from Minoru Furuya’s dark psychological manga, the film is about a teenager who aspires to be ordinary but follows a path to darkness after a life-changing incident. Himizu stars Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaidou, Tetsu Watanabe and Mitsuru Fukikoshi.

Sales Gaga Corporation -

THE IDES OF MARCH (US) (opening film)

Dir George Clooney

The Lido looks set for some serious star-wattage on opening night. This is the world premiere of the political drama co-written, directed by and starring Clooney as a candidate running in the presidential primary race for the Democratic Party ticket. Ryan Gosling also stars as an ambitious young press spokesman entangled in backroom politics, alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. The film, which was produced by Smoke House/Appian Way and backed by Cross Creek Pictures, Exclusive Media Group and Crystal City Entertainment, will be released in the US by Columbia Pictures.

Sales Exclusive Films International -


Dir William Friedkin

A black comedy from legendary director Friedkin, Killer Joe follows a drug dealer who has to find $6,000 after his stash is stolen. Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch star alongside Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon. The film was written by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Tracy Letts, who previously collaborated with Friedkin on Bug, which won the Fipresci prize at Cannes in 2006. Killer Joe was produced by Nicolas Chartier and Scott Einbinder.

Sales Voltage Pictures -


Dir Gian Alfonso Pacinotti

This debut feature from comic-book artist Pacinotti (aka Gipi) is produced by Domenico Procacci who has nurtured the careers of many leading Italian directors, including Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) and Gabriele Muccino (The Last Kiss). It is loosely inspired by Italian comic novel Nessuno Mi Fara’ Del Male. The film is about aliens arriving on Earth — and finding a planet of disillusioned inhabitants.

Sales Fandango Portobello Sales -


Dir Johnnie To

Hong Kong action director To has screened in Competition at Venice with The Mad Detective in 2007 and Exiled in 2006. He returns this year with the story of three people in need of money who find their destinies entwined around a bag of stolen money. Life Without Principle (Dyut Ming Gam) stars Lau Ching-wan, Richie Jen and Denise Ho. It is produced by Media Asia Films and Milkyway Image.

Sales Media Asia Distribution -


Dir Steve McQueen

Shame is the anticipated second film from Turner Prize-winning artist McQueen, after his breakout Hunger won a slew of awards and a Bafta for McQueen. Like Hunger, Shame stars Michael Fassbender, this time in the story of a man unable to manage his sex life. Carey Mulligan also stars in the film, which was written by Abi Morgan and McQueen, and produced by See-Saw Films (The King’s Speech). Financed by Film4, the British Film Institute, Lipsync and Aver.

Sales HanWay Films -


Dir Ann Hui

Hui’s A Simple Life (Taojie) is billed as a heartwarming drama about the relationship between a young man and the family servant. Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau heads the cast with Deanie Ip. The Cantonese-language film is based on a true story and was produced by Bona Entertainment, Focus Films and Sil-Metropole.

Sales Distribution Workshop -


Dir Emanuele Crialese

Crialese won Venice’s Revelation Lion in 2006 with Golden Door, after his international breakout Respiro earned the Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prize in 2002. Terraferma explores the impact of African immigrants on a Sicilian island.

Sales Elle Driver -


Dir Ami Canaan Mann

A thriller set in the oil wastelands of Texas, the cast of Texas Killing Fields features some of Hollywood’s hottest names in Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chloe Moretz and Jessica Chastain. The second film from the daughter of Michael Mann (he is a producer on the film) is inspired by true events about police officers who must hunt down a serial killer. Anchor Bay releases in the US later in the year.

Sales QED International -


Dir Philippe Garrel

French director Garrel is a Venice favourite, having screened several titles on the Lido including J’Entends Plus La Guitare in 1991 — which won a Silver Lion — Night Wind in 1999, Wild Innocence in 2001 and Regular Lovers in 2005, which picked up the Silver Lion for best director. Garrel’s latest, That Summer (Un Ete Brulant) is about a painter tormented after his wife abandons him. Shot in Italy at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios, it stars Monica Bellucci, Louis Garrel, Jérome Robart and Céline Sallette.

Sales Wild Bunch -


Dir Tomas Alfredson

Working Title’s adaptation of John le Carré’s Cold War classic is a prestigious affair. The first English-language film from Sweden’s Alfredson (Let The Right One In), the film stars an array of UK acting talent including Gary Oldman and Colin Firth, who returns to the Lido after winning the best actor prize for A Single Man in 2009. The 1970s-set espionage thriller, with a screenplay by Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor, opens first  in the UK on September 16 through StudioCanal’s UK arm Optimum Releasing. “The film, through my very personal prism, is a triumph,” author le Carré has said.

Sales StudioCanal -


Dir Wei Te-sheng

Wei’s 2008 film Cape No. 7 was the highest-grossing local title ever in Taiwan. His $25m Warriors Of The Rainbow is produced by John Woo, Terence Chang and Jimmy Huang, and is an epic set during the Japanese rule of Taiwan, following the doomed rebellion of indigenous Seediq warriors. The cast includes Taiwan’s Vivian Hsu and Japanese star Ando Masanobu. Optimum Releasing has UK rights.

Sales Fortissimo Films -


Dir Cristina Comencini

A love story adapted from director Comencini’s novel of the same name, When The Night (Quando La Notte) is about a woman struggling with marriage and impending motherhood when she encounters a solitary man. He has such a strong effect on her that 15 years later she returns to find him. Comencini last screened in Venice in 2005 with Don’t Tell (La Bestia Nel Cuore), picking up the Volpi for best actress for Giovanna Mezzogiorno. The film was also Oscar-nominated.

Sales Celluloid Dreams -


Dir Andrea Arnold

Short-film Oscar winner Arnold makes her Venice debut after screening in Competition at Cannes with Red Road and Fish Tank — and winning the Jury Prize for both. Her take on the Emily Bronte classic stars newcomer James Howson and Kaya Scodelario. Written by Olivia Hetreed, it is produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae of Ecosse Films and Kevin Loader of Free Range Films, with Tessa Ross executive-producing for Film4. HanWay’s presales include for the UK (Artificial Eye), Germany (Prokino) and Spain (Alta).

Sales HanWay Films -