Hailed by many as one of the best festivals ever organized by Marco Mà¼ller in his eight years in the job, Venice 68 opens on 31st August with “The Ides of March” written by and starring George Clooney, and ends on 10th September.
The Americans will be arriving in force with a total of five movies in competition: in addition to Clooney’s film, there will be “4:44 Last Day on Earth” by Abel Ferrara with Willem Dafoe, “Dark Horse” by Todd Solondz with Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken, and “A Dangerous Method” by David Cronenberg starring Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel.
There is even room for the second movie by Ami Canaan Mann (Michael’s daughter), “Texas Killing Fields”.
There are a number of other big films out of competition that also fly the US flag, starting with “Wild Salome” by and starring Al Pacino, “W.E..”, the second movie directed by rock star Madonna, and “Contagion” by Steven Soderberg which has a stellar cast: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.
But it is not all just about the US: the official sections are filled with international filmmakers and stars.
The list of movies in competition starts with Roman Polanski, now French more by necessity than by virtue, who will be present in spirit at the Lido with his latest movie, “Carnage”, starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet and Christopher Waltz.
Also from France is Philippe Garrel who directs Monica Bellucci in “Un été brulant”, and “Poulet aux prunes” by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Patronnaud, also starring Italy’s Isabella Rossellini and Chiara Mastroianni.
“Faust” by Russia’s Alexander Sokurov marks the return to the big screen of Hanna Schygulla; and Colin Firth, Gary Holdman and John Hurt star in the Anglo-German production of ” Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, directed by Thomas Alfredson.
The United Kingdom will be offering more innovative talent in the shape of Steve McQueen (who shares the same name as the famous daredevil star from the 70s), who is the director of ” Shame”.
There will be a qualified Italian presence even though, this year, we “only” have three movies in competition – “Quando la notte” by Cristina Comencini, “Terraferma” by Emanuele Crialese and “L’ultimo terrestre” by Gian Alfonso Pacinotti (Gipi) “” which are up against the five US movies. Rock fans will be able to enjoy “Questa Storia qua” (a special event) by Alessandro Paris and Sybille: a docudrama about singer Vasco Rossi, the Lido presentation of which will be broadcast live to 27 Italian multiscreen theaters on 5th September.
However, out of competition we have “Il villaggio di cartone” by Ermanno Olmi and “Scossa” by Francesco Maselli, Carlo Lizzani, Ugo Gregoretti, Nino Russo.
And another great Italian, Marco Bellocchio, will be receiving a Career Golden Lion Award.
For those who did not make it to the higher echelons of Venice 68 there is “Controcampo italiano”, which is filled with 29 movies divided into features, documentaries, shorts and out of competition events. There is a bit of everything here: a variety of comedy flavors “” from “Tutta colpa della musica” by Ricki Tognazzi to “Scialla”, Francesco Bruni’s debut movie, to “Cose dell’altro mondo” by Francesco Patierno – plus the latest denouncement of the repression at the G8 in Genoa (“Black Block” by Genovese film-maker Carlo Bachschmidt), and “Io sono. Storie di schiavitù”, indagine sulle democrazie del mondo” by Barbara Cupisti; plus genre cinema from the Manetti Bros (“L’arrivo di Wang”), and a documentary about the golden years of Italian cinema (“Hollywood Invasion” by Marco Spagnoli).
Mà¼ller, however, is mainly pinning his hopes on the “Orizzonti” section, a window to the future which this year has been “cropped” to “include a broader type of cinema” as the director himself has “explained”.
The challenge has been taken up in every corner of the world, including Samoa (a land with a form of cinematography we will discover to be vitally important), that presents the first movie by Tusi Tamasese: “O le tulafale”.
In all, Venice.68, the last edition to be directed by Marco Mà¼ller, promises to be a record-breaking one (probably making Mà¼ller’s return for a third season inevitable). One record has already been confirmed: for the first time in the history of the Film Festival from the Second World War to the present day, all the feature films in the official selections are world premieres.