International Cinema: Venice International Film Festival
The 79th Venice International Film Festival gets underway at the end of the month, with a line-up bursting with goodness. The event opens with White Noise, Noah Baumbach’s juicy-sounding Netflix-backed adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 1985 breakout novel about a college professor who specialises in Hitler studies. The movie co-stars Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, marking a reunion for the pair ten years on from starring in Baumbach’s brilliant Frances Ha.
Another hugely anticipated reunion comes in the form of Bones and All, as filmmaker Luca Guadagnino is back together with his Call Me By Your Name star Timothée Chalamet. The story follows cannibalistic lovers who road trip across America in the 1980s. Italian cinema will be further represented with L’Immensita – something of a comeback for Respiro and Golden Door director Emanuele Crialese. This latest film sees Penélope Cruz play a mother-of-three in 1970s Rome.
The feature liable to get the most attention plays in the second week. Andrew Dominik’s three-hour Blonde sees Ana de Armas (No Time To Die) take on the role of a lifetime: Marilyn Monroe. Based on the book by Joyce Carol Oates, it’s a drama that’s been in the works for well over a decade, and there’s already been controversy over the explicit content in this look at the tragic Hollywood figure. Other must-see competition titles include Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, about an obese father (Brendan Fraser) attempting to reconnect with his daughter (Sadie Sink), and Saint Omer, the first full-length work from French documentarian Alice Diop. The Kayije Kagame-starrer tells the story of a novelist who attends the trial of a mother accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter by abandoning her on a beach in northern France.
British films playing on the Lido include Joanna Hogg’s latest The Eternal Daughter, a ghost tale she shot during lockdown with Tilda Swinton, her star from The Souvenir and its sequel. An artist and her elderly mother return to their former family home to find it is now a hotel haunted by its mysterious past. Elsewhere, Sally Potter, who was one of the major guest speakers at last year’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival, will be treating audiences to Look at Me. The short stars Javier Bardem and Chris Rock, plus an appearance from tap-dancer Savion Glover, and was made in London and New York whilst she shot her last feature, The Roads Not Taken. Potter describes the work as a “fast-moving portrait of conflict and love.”
The Venice Immersive strand, featuring virtual reality projects, will also see another homegrown project, Framerate: Pulse of the Earth by London-based ScanLab (Mathew Shaw and William Trossell). This poetic installation is derived from 3D mapping of British landscapes, revealing a country in flux. The artistic duo were previously longlisted for the 2019 Aesthetica Art Prize, and this latest effort will surely be greeted with feverish anticipation.
The Venice International Film Festival runs from 31 August – 10 September.
Words: James Mottram