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ROME – The Venice Film Festival unveiled the lineup for its 70th edition Thursday, with a slimmed-down program of just 54 films in the official selection and a strong English-language presence among the 20 competition films, including Terry Gilliam ‘s The Zero Theorem, Jonathan Glazer‘s Under the Skin, Stephen Frears‘ Philomena and Child of God from James Franco.
Also on tap in competition is Errol Morris‘ controversial Donald Rumsfeld documentary, The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld. Along with Gianfranco Rosi‘s Sacro GRA, organizers put two documentaries in the competition selection for the first time ever.
Seven out of the 20 competition slots went to U.S. productions or co-productions. In addition to the Franco, Glazer, Gilliam and Morris films, U.S. competition selections include Kelly Reichardt‘s Night Moves, David Gordon Green‘s Joe and JFK drama Parkland by Peter Landsman, the final competition film announced.
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Second-year artistic director Alberto Barbera also announced the return of Kim Ki-duk, who won the festival’s Golden Lion award for Pieta after a controversy last year (the jury originally sought to give the prize to Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master, but the award was switched after it was revealed Venice rules prohibited one film from winning too many prizes). Kim is back, out of competition this time, with his new drama Moebius.
Another former prize winner to return is Frears, whose drama Philomena — which tells the story of a woman searching for her adult son — will screen in competition. Frears’ The Queen earned the best actress award in Venice for Helen Miren in 2006.
Director Gianni Amelio, the last Italian to win the Venice Golden Lion when he took home the prize in 1998 for Cosi ridevamo (The Way We Laughed), also returns with L’intrepido (The Intrepid).
The festival will also be the first time Gilliam – of Monty Python fame – brings a film to Venice since 2005 when The Brothers Grimm screened in competition.
Another Venice lineup highlight: Japanese director Lee Sang-il‘s Yurusarezaru mono (Unforgiven) will screen out of competition. The film is a Japanese-language remake of Clint Eastwood‘s 1992 Oscar winner Unforgiven, made with Eastwood’s blessing.
Another highly anticipated title screening out of competition is Che strano chiamarsi Federico: Scola racconta Fellini (How Strange to Call You Federico: Scola recounts Fellini) from Italian auteur Ettore Scola, who discusses Italian film with icon Federico Fellini.
“I think we’ve got an interesting mix of established names and new names and of films of many different types,” Barbera said upon presenting the lineup.
Demonstrations from Italian cinema industry groups that threatened to “block” Thursday’s press conference in protest of the government’s decision to stop funding the cinema tax credit turned out to be reduced to a statement calling on the government to reinststate the credit added to press kits. Organizers said the possibility of more high profile protests during the festival itself remains, though when asked about the issue Venice Biennale President Paolo Baratta brushed aside the concers and said he believed the issue was nearly resolved.
Going into Thursday’s announcement, the festival had already given a few hints about its out-of-competition selection, including the news that Alfonso Cuaron’s 3D sci-fi thriller Gravity would open the festival and that Paul Schrader’s crowd-funded The Canyons would premiere on the Lido. On Thursday, Barbera announced the festival’s closing film would be Thierry Ragobert‘s Amazonia, also in 3D.
“We open with a 3D film and close with one, since this seems to be the direction things are going,” said Barbera, who added that he and his staff watched nearly 3,500 films to finalize their selections.
Also on tap: the three winners of last year’s inaugural Biennale College film lab will screen on the Lido: Memphis, from U.S.-based director Tim Sutton and producer John Baker; The Year of June from Thailand’s Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit and Aditya Assarat; and Yuri Esposito from Italy’s Alessio Fava and Max Chicco.
The festival on Thursday also announced the lineup for its Horizons sidebar, including Palo Alto from Gia Coppola (Francis Ford Coppola‘s granddaughter) and produced by Franco, who also plays a role in the film, Umberto Pasolini’s Still Life, and Bauyr (Little Brother) from Serik Aprymov, which will screen during a period of heightened diplomatic tensions between Italy and Aprymov’s native Kazakhstan.
In his remarks Thursday, Baratta also highlighted several key infrastructure improvements on the Lido to be phased in over the next two years, including a significant increase in seating capacity to be ready for next year’s edition. The improvements expected to be ready for this year’s festival include a revamped press area and new elevators in the festival’s two main buildings, after the old elevators stalled several times in recent years.
The festival’s autonomous Critics’ Week and Venice Days sections announced their lineups earlier in the week.
The world’s oldest film festival will take place on the Venice Lido Aug. 28-Sept. 7.
Here is a look at the lineup:
Es-Stouh (The Rooftops), Merzak Allouache
L’intrepido, Gianni Amelio ?
Miss Violence, Alexandros Avranas
?Tracks, John Curran ?
Via Castellana Bandiera, Emma Dante ?
Tom at the Farm, Xavier Dolan?
Child of God, James Franco
?Philomena, Stephen Frears?
La Jalousie, Philippe Garrel ?
The Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam
?Ana Arabia, Amos Gitai ?
Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer
?Joe, David Gordon Green
?Die Frau des Polizisten (The Police Officer’s Wife), Philip Groning ?
Parkland, Peter Landsman
Kaze tachinu, Hayao Miyazaki ?
The Unknown Known: the Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld, Errol Morris?
Night Moves, Kelly Reichardt ?
Sacro GRA, Gianfranco Rosi ?
Jiaoyou (Stray Dogs), Tsai Ming-liang
OUT OF COMPETITION
?Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron ?
Moebius, Kim Ki-duk
Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Aramaki Shinji ?
Locke, Steven Knight ?
Yurusarezaru mono (Unforgiven), Lee Sang-Il
?Wolf Creek 2, Greg McLean
?Die Andere Heimat — Chronik einer Sehnsucht (Home from Home — Chronicle of a Vision), Edgar Reitz
?The Canyons, Paul Schrader
?Che strano chiamarsi Federico Scola racconta Fellini, Ettore Scola?
Walesa. Czlowiek z nadziei (Walesa. Man of Hope), Andrzej Wajda, Ewa Brodzka
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