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Alfonso Cuaron returns to the Lido with autobiographically inspired epic ROMA in competition. The film takes place in 1970s Mexico. After his Oscar success launching Gravity at the fest in 2013, all eyes will be on his latest film, which is expected to be like nothing he has ever done before.
In another slot for Netflix, Paul Greengrass will debut 22 July in competition. The film recounts the right-wing terrorist attacks of a lone wolf in Norway, which resulted in 77 deaths.
And the Coen Brothers’ first-ever digitally shot project The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is an anthology Western starring Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson and Tom Waits. It will also premiere in competition.
Other Netflix projects will play in other parts of the Venice lineup. Alessio Cremonini’s On My Skin will compete in the Horizons sidebar as the opening film. Starring Alessandro Borghi, Max Tortora and Jasmine Trinca, the film tells the horrific true story of Stefano Cucchi, a man who died in Italian police custody.
Netflix will also debut the hotly awaited final project of Orson Welles, The Other Side of the Wind, nearly 50 years after it began production in a special event at the festival. The film follows John Huston as an auteur trying to make a comeback in new Hollywood. The film was expected to premiere in Cannes.
The event will be accompanied by Netflix documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, directed by Morgan Neville, about Welles and the journey behind his final film.
Cannes’ loss seems to be Venice’s huge gain this year. Netflix pulled out of the French film festival earlier this year after it announced a competition ban on films that haven’t secured a local theatrical release. That left a buildup of auteur projects ripe for fall festivals, and it was clear for many that Venice would have first dibs.
The Italian festival has had a great relationship with the streamer from the start, debuting Netflix’s first original film, Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, in 2015.
Venice festival boss Alberto Barbera can be credited with constantly remaining forward-thinking. He has spoken out about not fighting against waves of change that are inevitably coming, while also ushering in new technologies to the world’s oldest film festivals and a dedicated VR section.
But the reason for the friendly welcome may also be much simpler. Venice’s and Italy’s “don’t worry” culture could also be seen as the antidote to some of Cannes’ stuffy film culture. When a journalist at Wednesday’s press conference in Rome inquired about a possible selfie ban (which dominated the news cycle in Cannes), Barbera couldn’t help but just laugh.
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