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Oscar Hopefuls, Cannes Regulars Deliver Splashy Venice Lineup

We always knew that it was going to be a big year for Venice. The changing landscape of Oscar campaigning that increasingly favors a late summer/early fall showcase for prestige films, Venice’s winning streak of successfully launching prime studio prizefighters, coupled with Cannes’ self-destructive fight with streaming giants which host some of the industry’s top talents and their passion projects these days, guaranteed as much.

Judging by the official selection revealed today (full list below), when all is said and done, the likes of Alfonso Cuarón, Damian Chazelle, Luca Guadagnino, the Coen Brothers, Mike Leigh, Yorgos Lanthimos, Bradley Cooper, Paul Greengrass, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, Tilda Swinton, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Juliette Binoche, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Oscar Isaac, Lady Gaga, Natalie Portman, Jude Law and many more will likely have walked the red carpet on Lido this year rather than the Croisette. Whether Cannes should be alarmed or not, that lineup is pretty damn impressive by any measure.

Besides the already announced opening film FIRST MAN (in competition), such default Oscar players as ROMA, A STAR IS BORN, THE FAVOURITE, THE SISTERS BROTHERS and SUSPIRIA will also premiere in Venice (in or out of competition). And what about AT ETERNITY’S GATE – a biopic about Vincent van Gogh from the director of THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY? Or VOX LUX, Brady Corbet’s follow-up to his insane directorial debut THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER? Or Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent’s sophomore feature THE NIGHTINGALE four years after her breakout hit THE BABADOOK? Or Hungarian director László Nemes’ follow-up to his Oscar winner SON OF SAUL? Will respective campaigns for Dafoe, Portman or best foreign language film start right here?

As the world’s oldest film festival, Venice also shows surprising flexibility in welcoming not only the NETFLIX-backed ROMA, but the Coens’ 6-part miniseries THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS to its competition lineup. At a time where the consumption of audiovisual contents is being revolutionized and the entertainment industry is trying to redefine itself, this level of inclusiveness feels not just strategically smart but boldly forward-thinking.

That said, the same competition lineup proves dishearteningly conservative in that of its 21 titles, only one female director (and one Asian director) made the cut. Now I’m not one to shout DIVERSITY ABOVE ALL ELSE when it comes to festival programming. BUT, if the Cannes jury sent out one message back in May when it handed out the three top prizes to an Asian, a black and a female filmmaker in a highly competitive year, it’s that there is good stuff out there made by non-white/male directors. Something to think about.

Aside from the higher-profile films, I’m particularly intrigued by American indie director Rick Alverson’s fifth feature THE MOUNTAIN, which is giving me a strong Paul Thomas Anderson vibe and could prove a surprise hit. Mexican director Carlos Reygadas’ hopefully über-weird WHERE LIFE IS BORN has been on my must-see list ever since it was announced and we’ll finally get our first peek after a conspicuous Cannes absence. The always exciting Mary Harron also returns with CHARLIE SAYS, a crime drama revolving around the aftermath of the Manson murder case starring Matt Smith. And after BONE TOMAHAWK and BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, sicko mastermind Craig Zahler’s latest crime drama DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE will probably make for juicy genre fun.

The 75th Venice Film Festival runs August 29th – September 8th. Last year’s Golden Lion and eventual Oscar winner Guillermo Del Toro will chair the competition jury. See the complete festival lineup below:

Competition

FIRST MAN – dir. Damien Chazelle (opening night film)

ROMA – dir. Alfonso Cuarón

PETERLOO – dir. Mike Leigh

THE SISTERS BROTHERS – dir. Jacques Audiard

22 JULY – dir. Paul Greengrass

SUNSET – dir. László Nemes

SUSPIRIA – dir. Luca Guadagnino

THE FAVOURITE – dir. Yorgos Lanthimos

CLOSE ENEMIES – dir. David Oelhoffen

NON FICTION – dir. Olivier Assayas

THE MOUNTAIN – dir. Rick Alverson

AT ETERNITY’S GATE – dir. Julian Schnabel

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS – dir. Joel & Ethan Coen

VOX LUX – dir. Brady Corbet

CAPRI – REVOLUTION – dir. Mario Martone

THE NIGHTINGALE – dir. Jennifer Kent

KILLING – dir. Shinya Tsukamoto

WORK WITHOUT AUTHOR – dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

WHAT YOU GONNA DO WHEN THE WORLD’S ON FIRE – dir. Roberto Minervini

WHERE LIFE IS BORN – dir. Carlos Reygadas

ACUSADA – dir. Gonzalo Tobal

Out of competition – Fiction

UNA STORIA SENZA NOME – dir. Roberto Andò

LES ESTIVANTS – dir. Valeria Bruni TEdeschi

A STAR IS BORN – dir. Bradley Cooper

MI OBRA MAESTRA – dir. Gaston Duprat

A TRAMWAY IN JERUSALEM – dir. Amos Gitai

ONE NATION, ONE KING – dir. Pierre Scholler

THE QUIETUDE – dir. Pablo Trapero

SHADOW – dir. Zhang Yimou

DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE – dir. Craig Zahler

Out of competition – Non-Fiction

A LETTER TO A FRIEND IN GAZA – dir. Amos Gitai

AQUARELA – dir. Victor Kossakovsky

EL PEPE, UNA VIDA SUPREMA – dir. Emir Kusturica

PROCESS – dir. Sergei Loznitsa

CARMINE STREET GUITARS – dir. Ron Mann

ISIS, TOMORROW. THE LOST SULS OF MOSUL – dir. Francesca Mannocchi, Alessio Romanzi

AMERICAN DHARMA – dir. Errol Morris

INTRODUZIONE ALL’OSCURO – dir. Gaston Solnicki

1938 DIVERSI – dir. Giorgio Treves

YOUR FACE – dir. Tsai Ming-liang

MONROVIA, INDIANA – dir. Frederick Wiseman

Out of competition – Special Events

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND – dir. Orson Welles

THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD – dir. Morgan Neville

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND – dir. Saverio Costanzo

IL DIARIO DI ANGELA – NOI DUE CINEASTI – dir. Yervant Gianikian

Horizons

SULLA MIA PELLE – dir. Alessio Cremonini

MANTA RAY – dir. Phuttiphong Aroonpheng

SONI – dir. Ivan Ayr

THE RIVER – dir. Emir Baigazin

LA NOCHE DE 12 AÑOS – dir. Álvaro Brechner

DESLEMBRO – dir. Flavia Castro

THE ANNOUNCEMENT – dir. Mahmut Fazil Coskun

UN GIORNO ALL’IMPROVVISO – dir. Ciro D’Emilio

CHARLIE SAYS – dir. Mary Harron

AMDANDA – dir. Mikhael Hers

THE DAY I LOST MY SHADOW – dir. Soudade Kaadan

L’ENKAS – dir. Sarah Marx

THE MAN WHO SURPRISED EVERYONE – dir. Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov

MEMORIES OF MY BODY – dir. Garin Nugroho

AS I LAY DYING – dir. Mostafa Sayyari

LA PROFEZIA DELL’ARMADILLO – dir. Emanuele Scaringi

STRIPPED – dir. Yaron Shani

JINPA – dir. Pema Tseden

TEL AVIV ON FIRE – dir. Sameh Zoabi

Venice Virtual Reality

MAKE NOISE – dir. May Abdalla

THE UNKNOWN PATIENT – dir. Michael Beets

BUDDY VR – dir. Chuck Chae

UMAMI – dir. Landia Egal, Thomas Pons

ECLIPSE – dir. Astruc Jonathan, Favre Aymeric

THE HORRIFICALLY VIRTUAL REALITY – dir. Marie Jourdren

SPHERES: CHORUS OF THE COSMOS – dir. Eliza McNitt

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES – HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT – dir. Kim-Leigh Pontin

THE ROAMING – dir. Mathieu Pradat

KOBOLD – dir. Max Sacker, Ioulia Isserlis

AWAVENA – dir. Lynette Wallworth

EVEN IN THE RAIN – dir. Lindsay Branham

ANGELŲ TAKAIS – dir. Kristina Buozyte

X-RAY FASHION – dir. Francesco Carrozzini

HALF LIFE VR – SHORT VERSION – dir. Robert Connor

CROW: THE LEGEND – dir. Eric Darnell

AGE OF SAIL – dir. John Kahrs

MIND PALACE – dir. Carl Krause, Dominik Stockhausen

BALLAVITA – dir. Gerda Leopold

BORDERLINE – dir. Assaf Machnes

SHENNONG: TASTE OF ILLUSION – dir. Li Mi, Zheng Wang

THE GREAT C – dir. Steve Miller

L’ÎLE DES MORTS – dir. Benjamin Nuel

HOME AFTER WAR – dir. Gayatri Parameswaran, Felix Gaedtke

MADE THIS WAY: REDEFINING MASCULINITY – dir. Elli Raynai, Irem Harnak

LUCID – dir. Pete Short

WU ZHU ZHI CHENG VR (THE LAST ONE STANDING VR) – dir. Jiwen Wang, Yang Liu

FRESH OUT – dir. Sam Wey, Fangchao Tao

1943: BERLIN BLITZ – dir. David Whelan

ROOMS – dir. Christian Zipfel