Many professionals are staying past first weekend, as festival is abuzz with strong showings of Black Swan, Potiche, Somewhere and Meek’s Cutoff.
As Venice wraps its first week of screenings after what has gone down as the strongest opening in recent years with Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, followed by the well-liked Robert Rodriguez Machete — many industry professionals are sitting tight and staying on past the traditional industry exodus during Venice’s first weekend.
While dealmaking is not a Venice strong point, rating this year’s edition, Andrea Occhipinti of Lucky Red told Screen, “It’s early to say. Meanwhile, we bought two films.” In addition to Machete, which Lucky Red picked up prior to the Venice opening night gala screening, the distributor picked up Venice Days title Incendies, a Middle East set drama from Denis Villeneuve. The deal was made with Charlotte Mickie of Canada’s E1 Entertainment. “The advantage for us distributors is that you immediately have the Italian audience reaction….and the buzz is very encouraging so…right away you have a feeling of what kind of reaction the film can have,” Occhipinti said.
Competition titles presented so far have been well liked, while ‘winners’ buzz seems to be slowly brewing. Films in the main competition that seem to have grabbed audience and critical attention include Francois Ozon’s Potiche, which should also have strong commercial potential and the more art-house oriented Aleksei Fedorchenko’s Silent Souls,which focuses on grieving rituals of the assimilated Merja people from the ancient Finno-Ugric tribe but, which has nonetheless struck audiences for the tender undertone and excellent camera work. Another well liked title on the Lido is John Turturro’s ‘musical adventure’ Passione, from Cinecitta Luce. The film is described as a Buena-Vista style musical homage to the Canzone Napolitana.
Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere has had mostly positive reviews with the actors Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning receiving particular attention. The film saw the first release worldwide in Italy on Sept 3 via Medusa on 250 copies.
Kelly Reichardt’s slowpaced yet riveting Meek’s Cutoff screened Sunday to a seemingly positive critical embrace – oddly, Reichardt, in her first major European festival appearance requested that the press conference not be televised and the official coverage of the red carpet was also cut short.
As for the new Horizons set up – director/visual artist Nicolas Provost who brought the Dennis Hopper themed Stardust to the Lido told Screen he was “extremely happy with the attention given to his film.”
On the logistical side, despite on-going construction, it appears that while most things are running normally, Venice has a few logistical issues. With the temporary shutting of the Des Bains Hotel, also a popular press junket location, a temporary location (not associated with the Biennale) was set up. After a few days, some high-profile films ditched the location and re-scheduled at other locations. One publicist told Screen “too many people were coming and going,” and that the location didn’t work well.
Also, one of the talking points of the festival, Cassey Affleck’s I’m Still Here will be screened out of competition Monday. Affleck’s screening is expected to be packed since the Biennale has programmed a single screening of the film (other than the official screening) in the smaller Sala Pasinetti, a 150-seat theatre. Film representatives are keeping a tight list of who will get into that screening.
And, Roberto Proia, head of theatrical distribution and marketing for Moviemax, told Screen that he struggles to see films in Venice, despite being a badge holder. “There are no preferential lines,” he says. “If you want a ticket for tomorrow you can’t get it before 10 am on the day of the screening…. Things should be made much easier for buyers.” However, Proia says “the reason we come, is a lot of sales companies are here.” He says Moviemax is in talks on some Venice titles like Fortissimo’s Reign of Assassins, “we will screen the film here and continue talking in Toronto.”
This edition, the Lido was hit by unexpected torrential rains on Friday, keeping the actor Roschdy Zem from the film Happy Few from making it to his press conference. The power had to be briefly shut on the third floor of the Casino — the press venue. Luckily, being Italy, the sun was shining a few hours later.
Many strong titles will be unveiled this week including the surprise film (announced Monday), Thirteen Assassins by Takashi Miike, Attenberg by Athina Rachel Tsangari, Promises Written In Water by Vincent Gallo, Barney’s Version from Richard J. Lewis, The Town by Ben Affleck, Venus Noir from Abdellatif Kechiche and Saverio Costanzo’s The Solitude Of Primary Numbers among others.
Venice wraps Sept 11.