VENICE 75/Beyond Borders

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Following last year’s successful debut,Venice Virtual Reality, is expanding – it will continue for the duration of the Festival and will be opened up to  the public – and becoming increasingly intertwined with Biennale College, a complementary initiative in the work of discovering and supporting young talents.

This premise – is useful in order to try and interpret the balance achieved by the Venice International Film Festival that is clearly visible in the schedule for the 75th edition.

The thrust towards the new, in fact, also motivates the decision to include movies produced by Netflix in the selection, works that Cannes has so far refused to welcome.
These are weighty movies: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”, stories from the old west recounted by the Coen brothers, “Roma” Alfonso Cuaron’s autobiographical movie, “22 July” by Peter Greengrass about the 2011 terrorist massacre in Oslo (all three in Competition), Orson Welles’ unfinished picture “The Other Side of the Wind” Out of Competition, and “On my Skin” by Alessio Cremonini about the homicide of Stefano Cucchi which opens the Orizzonti-Horizons section.

The complaints from the Italian exhibitors’ associations worried about movie theaters losing their central role in the relationship with the Venetian institution, have not dampened the conviction of the director, Alberto Barbera, that it is not a Festival’s job to “save” cinema.
This is another way that Venice – the construction site of a new way of making and using cinema at the same time – consolidates the link with the Hollywood movie industry that at this point, quite rightly, considers the Lido to be a springboard for the Oscars.
Star striped movies preside more or less over all the sections, starting with the Competition where, in addition to the aforementioned Netflix titles, “First Man” by Damien Chazelle, starring Ryan Gosling as the first man on the moon, has the honor of opening play, whereas out of competition we have the umpteenth remake of “A Star is Born”, this time starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, the latter also making his directing debut.

However there are also many hallowed European filmmakers, most of whom are already Cannes Film Festival favorites: we will be astounded by Jacques Audiard who has filmed a western – “The Sisters Brothers” – in Spain and Romania (although the cast is American, presided over by Joaquin Phoenix), or allow ourselves to be led by Olivier Assayas’s light dramedy “Doubles Vies”, or discover the history enthusiast in Mike Leigh who recounts one of the most violent episodes of 19th century England in his impressive “Peterloo” or travel to the dawn of the XVIII century and develop a passion for court intrigue in the reign of Queen Anne of England as told by Yorgos Lanthimos in “The Favorite”; or once again savor the disturbing atmospheres of Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (who won an Oscar for “The Lives of Others”) in “Werk ohne Autor”: three periods of German history filtered through the life of the artist Kurt Barnert (played by Tom Schilling).
The world of art inspires another two movies: “At Eternity’s Gate” by Julian Schnabel with Willem Dafoe as Van Gogh (in Competition), and “The Stolen Caravaggio” by Roberto Andò (Out of Competition), about the episode of the Caravaggio stolen in Palermo in the 1980s.

Italian cinema, no longer the center of attention at the Festival, still enjoys a prestigious and certainly not a provincial presence. 
It is well placed in the Competition with stories and filmmakers from international cinema.
Luca Guadagnino takes on the horror genre in the remake “Suspiria” (the cast features Dakota Johnson), Roberto Minervini, a native of Fermo transplanted to the United States returns with the language he finds most congenial, that of documentaries, and takes a look at the topic of racism in the United States with “What You Gonna Do When the World’s On Fire?”.
And while Mario Martone concludes his trilogy on utopia with “Capri-Revolution” (also in competition), Neapolitan creativity is showcased once again with the special screening of an episode of the television series by Saverio  Costanzo based on the novel by Elena Ferrante “My Brilliant Friend”, enabling Barbera to “broaden his outlook” beyond the bounda- ries of cinema.

With six Oscar winners (Damien Chazelle, Ethan and Joel Coen, Alfonso Cuaron, Errol Morris, Frederick Wiseman and Laslo Nemes), three Golden Lions (Mike Leigh, Tsai Ming Liang and Zhang Yimou) and a shower of international stars (in addition to the actors already cited we have Juliette Binoche, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton, Mel Gibbson, Emma Stone, Emmanuelle Seigner and Luis Garrel; while Vanessa Redgrave and David Cronenberg will collect their Career Golden Lions), Venezia 75 will be remembered as an exceptional edition; an edition “without confines”, in fact, to paraphrase the name of one of the sections that this year has been changed from the reassuring Cinema Giardino to Sconfini.

With regard to Sconfini,which will be presenting an “extended cut” (189 minute) version of “The Tree of life” by Terence Malik, there is evidently a paradox. It has the highest percentage of Italian movies: four out of the eight making up the section. These are: “The Anarchist Banker”, Giulio Base’s big screen adaptation of the eponymous novel by Ferdinando Pessoa, “Il ragazzo più felice del mondo”, the story of a serial fan of the cartoonist GIPI, “Arrivederci Saigon” by Wilma Labate, the all-female memories of an extraordinary musical tour of Vietnam in ’68 during the war (and on the wrong side), and “Camorra”, a film that consists of historical archive footage made by Francesco Patierno using Rai Teche material.

Nella sezione: Focus on italy