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VENICE, Italy – The Venice Film Festival had its first high-profile no-show Friday when actress Lindsay Lohan — the female lead in Paul Schrader’s The Canyons — stayed home for personal reasons, less than a month after leaving rehab.
The Canyons, based on a Bret Easton Ellis screenplay and starring Lohan opposite porn actor James Deen, had its European premiere in Venice with Shrader, Easton Ellis and Deen all on hand for the event. At the press briefing, Schrader stated immediately that questions about Lohan’s personal issues were “off the table.” Along with the rest of the cast, Schrader praised her work as a actress, even comparing her a bit to Marilyn Monroe.
“They aren’t the same as actresses, they are very different,” Schrader said. “But both have had trouble separating their professional lives from their personal lives.”
In addition to coming to Venice for The Canyons’ release, Schrader is the head of the jury for the festival’s Horizons section, which focuses on innovations in cinema. He said the industry is going through a tumultuous period.
“Everything is changing,” he said. “The Canyons was shot for every media, with designs to go straight to [VOD]. We did that because all the cinemas are closing.”
The Canyons, which was made with money raised on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter and screened out of competition, was the second film in Friday’s Sala Grande doubleheader that started with David Gordon Green’s in competition Joe, which stars Nicolas Cage as a Texas loner who takes a troubled teenage boy (Tye Sheridan) under his wing.
Speaking Friday, Green earned praise for his direction of the gritty drama, with co-star Ronnie Gene Blevins calling him “the best director [he’s] ever worked with.” Cage, after Green said he wanted to do backflips when the actor signed on, went one further: “I would have done three backwards summersaults, completely naked, to work with David Gordon Green,” Cage said.
One out of competition film that premiered Thursday and was causing a buzz on Friday was Philip Groning’s Die Frau des Polizisten (The Police Officer’s Wife). The drama, which focuses on the issue of domestic violence, is being tapped as a early favorite in the running for Venice’s Golden Lion.
At Friday’s presser for the film, Groning won over the mostly Italian crowd by answering questions in near-fluent Italian, saying he wanted to explore the intersection between normal life and violence.
“Every violent life has normal parts to it, and that is what can be confusing to people who are nearby,” Groening said in Italian.
Friday also marked the start of three days of screenings of the three finalists from Venice’s inaugural edition of Biennale College, a comprehensive film lab in which films were produced with funding and advice from the initiative. The first to screen was Alessio Fava’s Yuri Esposito. The film, which tells the story of a man who goes through life at a snail’s pace, earned an enthusiastic response in the Lido’s Sala Perla venue.
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