The 70th Venice Int. Film Festival

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As always, the oldest film festival in the world, is set on the luxurious Lido in Venice and as the final touches were being put to the beautiful venues and, more importantly, the red carpet today, the sun shone and the sea sparkled, emphasising the fact that for most people here the next two weeks will be spent sitting in the dark, more than likely going through extreme intensity and emotional turmoil, in true film festival style.

This year’s Venice Film Festival is really pushing the boat out, with new work from Terry Gilliam, Stephen Frears, Hayao Miyazaki and Kelly Reichardt, to name a few, battling it out in competition for the Golden Lion. Out of competition also sees some big names, with Alfonso Cuaron’s space set Gravity opening the festival and starring Hollywood heavyweights Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

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Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

James Franco’s intriguing directorial, Cormac McCarthy’s ‘unfilmable’ Child of God,  sees him entering the competition and he also stars in Gia Coppola’s, niece of Sofia and Roman, Palo Alto.

There are indeed a multitude of English language films at Venice this year with both big-name directors and stars. Paul Shrader’s The Canyons is set to shake things up with one of its main stars being actress Lindsay Lohan. Written by Bret Easton-Ellis and directed by Shrader could mean it is worth the risk though. Gilliam’s highly anticipated The Zero Theorem has a plethora of acting icons including Christoph Waltz, David Thewlis and Tilda Swinton and John Curran’s Tracks features the fascinating Mia Wasikowska.

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Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem

But this festival isn’t just a showcase for Hollywood, there is also some of Britain’s finest acting talent in Steven Knight’s Locke, starring Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman and Ruth Wilson. Director Stephen Frears’ Philomena stars national treasure Judi Dench and Comedian Steve Coogan and British Jonathan Glazer, of Sexy Beast fame, directs Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin. Alan Rickman and Rebecca Hall also star in Une Promesse, a romantic drama set in Germany just before WWI and centred on a married woman who falls in love with her husband’s teacher.

Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson
Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson

There are also a vast array of foreign language films to indulge in including Italian L’intrepido, Sacro GRA and Via Castellana Bandiera, French La Jalousie and Tom a la ferme and German Die Frau des Polizisten.

This year’s Jury, deciding who and what deserves the much coveted awards, include influential Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris, Stealing Beauty, The Dreamers) as the president, English director and screenwriter Andrea Arnold (Red Road, Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights), French actress Virginie Ledoyen (8 Women, The Beach), Chilean director Pablo Larrain (Post Mortem, No), German actress Martina Gedeck (The Lives of Others) and American actress Carrie Fisher (the Star Wars trilogy, The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally).

It isn’t all about new films though, with the festival’s mission statement being; “the aim of the Festival is to raise awareness and promote the various aspects of international cinema in all its forms: as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue. The Festival also organizes retrospectives and tributes to major figures as a contribution towards a better understanding of the history of cinema.” There are plenty of restored classics being shown as well as the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement going to Exorcist and Killer Joe director William Friedkin. “Venice, especially during the Film Festival, is a spiritual home to me,” he said. “The Golden Lion is something I never expected but am proud to accept with gratitude and love”. Friedkin will receive the award during the festival, where he will present the Warner Bros. restored version of Sorcerer (1977).

So, plenty of films to choose from and prove that Venice is still one of the big three film festivals in the world. Some of my most anticipated films are Miguel Gomes’ latest short film Redemption, Wendy and Lucy director Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves, about three environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam, and Greek drama Miss Violence. Will there be a surprise favourite of the festival? Check back to find out over the next 11 days!

Reviews:

Amazonia (2013)
Child of God (2013)
Gravity (2013)
Joe (2013)
Kill Your Darlings (2013)
Locke (2013)
Miss Violence (2013)
Moebius (2013)
Night Moves (2013)
Philomena (2013)
Still Life (2013)
The Canyons (2013)
The Wind Rises (2013)
The Zero Theorem (2013)
Tracks (2013)
Under the Skin (2013)
Via Castellana Bandiera (2013)

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