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VENICE 2020 Competition / Orizzonti

Venice kick-starts international film again

by 

- From 2-12 September, the Venice Film Festival will offer a post-COVID, physical edition that is more streamlined than usual, but as varied and as international as ever

Venice kick-starts international film again
Nocturnal by Gianfranco Rosi

A “physical” edition that is more streamlined than usual, but is just as diverse and international as ever: such is the 77th iteration promised and cobbled together by artistic director Alberto Barbera, despite the fact that the world is still tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2-12 September, the Venice International Film Festival is set to present 62 features hailing from 50 countries in its movie theatres (read the news about the films out of competition). Eight of the 18 titles in competition, as pointed out by Barbera during the live-streamed presentation this morning, are helmed by female directors.

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The Macaluso Sisters [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Emma Dante is the first of the four Italian films that will be weighed up by the competition jury chaired by Cate Blanchett. It is based on a stage play by the very same director and playwright, who made her directorial debut at Venice in 2012 with A Street in Palermo [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Emma Dante
film profile
]
. The second Italian title, Miss Marx [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Susanna Nicchiarelli (who was victorious in Orizzonti with Nico, 1988 [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Susanna Nicchiarelli
film profile
]
), may well confirm this great new talent of female-directed Italian cinema. Another Italian flick is the third movie by Claudio Noce, Padre Nostro [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, based on true events that occurred during the period of terrorism, produced by and starring Pierfrancesco Favino. One more eagerly awaited title is Nocturnal [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Gianfranco Rosi, filmed amidst the destruction in Syria from the original point of view of the director of Sacro GRA [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Gianfranco Rosi
film profile
]
, which won the Golden Lion in 2013, and Fire at Sea [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Gianfranco Rosi
film profile
]
, which scooped the Golden Bear at Berlin in 2016.

Nicole Garcia is one of the very few French auteurs who have not given up on the prospect of getting a release in theatres after the lockdown: her new thriller Lovers will be in competition at Venice. After winning the Silver Bear in 2018 with Mug [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Małgorzata Szumowska
film profile
]
and serving on the jury at Venice last year, Polish helmer Małgorzata Szumowska is back with Never Gonna Snow Again, which she directed with Michał Englert. Meanwhile, the "years of lead" in Germany are back in focus in And Tomorrow the Entire World by Julia Von Heinz, while Quo Vadis, Aida? by Bosnia’s Jasmila Zbanic looks back at the Srebrenica massacre. An "unusually powerful family drama" is how Pieces of a Woman by Hungary’s Kornél Mundruczó (usually in competition at Cannes), starring US actors, is described.

Venice regular Amos Gitai is back with Laila in Haifa, filmed entirely in a nightclub frequented by Israelis and Palestinians in his home town, the most open-minded in Israel. In Dear Comrades, another master of cinema, Russia’s Andrei Konchalovsky, reconstructs an episode from real life, the first factory strike, which was violently repressed by the Soviet regime. It was thanks to Carlos Reygadas that Barbera came to know Azerbaijani director Hilal Baydarov, who is in competition with his second film, In Between Dying, which is "painful and heartbreaking, a genuine surprise".

Wife of a Spy by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, in the official competition for the first time, is "rich in plot twists". It’s also the first time in competition for Majid Majidi with his new outing, Sun Children, about street children in Iran. Indian classical music is at the centre of The Disciple by award-winning director Chaitanya Tamhane.

Nuevo orden by Mexico’s Michel Franco, who has been selected twice for Cannes with his previous films, is described by Barbera as "a hard-hitting and distressing dystopian science fiction, packed with cinematic and literary references". Mona Fastvold has made her sophomore film: in The World to Come, she tells a story of the love between two housewives who are neighbours in the late 1800s, amidst the harsh reality of day-to-day work and a lack of understanding from the men in their lives. Lastly, Nomadland, one of the most hotly anticipated titles in independent US cinema, is the third feature by director Chloé Zhao, produced by and starring Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand. The movie is being shared with the Toronto, Telluride and New York Film Festivals.

This year, the Orizzonti section does not only consist of feature debuts and relatively unknown directors. There are six first films and a clutch of first-rate follow-ups. One is that of Uberto Pasolini, seven years after Still Life [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Uberto Pasolini
film profile
]
, with Nowhere Special, based on a true story and starring James Norton. Another is the return of Lav Diaz, who won the Golden Lion in 2013 with The Woman Who Left, and who will be presenting his new effort, Genus Pan. Another helmer making a comeback, with the love triangle portrayed in Mainstream, is Gia Coppola, who took part in Orizzonti in 2013 with Palo Alto. Also returning are Italian documentarians Martina Parenti and Massimo D'Anolfi with Guerra e pace.

The fresh faces include Greece’s Christos Nikou, with Apples, in which a mysterious illness starts to afflict the population, robbing them of their memories. Giovanni Aloi will come clutching his feature debut, La troisième guerre, while in Milestone, Ivan Ayr tackles violence against women in Indian society. The Wasteland is the debut outing by Iran’s Ahmad Bahrami, crafted in stark black and white. Another "promising debut", according to Barbera, is I Predatori by Italy’s Pietro Castellitto. "Outlandish and uninhibited" is how the first film by Morocco’s Ismaël El Iraki, Zanka Contact, is billed. From Australia comes The Furnace by Roderick Mackay, revolving around an adventurer who has stolen the royal gold bars. Yet another young director, Ana Rocha de Sousa, will be taking part with the social and family drama Listen, while The Best Is Yet to Come is the first feature by Wang Jing, produced by one of the lynchpins of Chinese cinema, Jia Zhangke.

The second Iranian title in the section is Careless Crime, the third opus by Shahram Mokri. Tunisia’s Kaouther Ben Hania, who presented her first two movies at Cannes, has been invited to Venice with The Man Who Sold His Skin. The only film from sub-Saharan Africa is La nuit des rois by Ivorian director Philippe Lacôte, while rocking up from Palestine is Gaza Mon Amour, a highly critical film with gently comedic overtones by Tarzan and Arab Nasser. From Mexico comes Selva trágica by Yulene Olaizola, which passed through the Cannes Cinéfondation. The list is rounded off by the "slapstick comedy amidst the steppes of Kazakhstan" found in Yellow Cat, directed by Adilkhan Yerzhanov.

Here is the list of titles selected:

Competition

In Between Dying - Hilal Baydarov (Azerbaijan/USA)
The Macaluso Sisters [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Emma Dante (Italy)
The World to Come - Mona Fastvold (USA)
Nuevo orden - Michel Franco (Mexico/France)
Lovers
- Nicole Garcia (France)
Laila in Haifa - Amos Gitai (Israel/France)
Dear Comrades - Andrei Konchalovsky (Russia)
Wife of a Spy - Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Japan)
Sun Children
- Majid Majidi (Iran)
Pieces of a Woman
- Kornél Mundruczó (Canada/Hungary)
Miss Marx
 [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Susanna Nicchiarelli (Italy/Belgium)
Padre Nostro
 [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Claudio Noce (Italy)
Nocturnal
 [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Gianfranco Rosi (Italy/France/Germany)
Never Gonna Snow Again - Malgorzata Szumowska, Michał Englert (Poland/Germany)
The Disciple - Chaitanya Tamhane (India)
And Tomorrow the Entire World [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Julia Von Heinz (Germany/France)
Quo Vadis, Aida? - Jasmila Zbanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Austria/Romania/Netherlands/Germany/Poland/France/Norway)
Nomadland
- Chloé Zhao (USA)

Orizzonti

Apples - Christos Nikou (Greece/Poland/Slovenia)
La troisième guerre - Giovanni Aloi (France)
Milestone - Ivan Ayr (India)
The Wasteland - Ahmad Bahrami (Iran)
The Man Who Sold His Skin - Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia/France/Germany/Belgium/Sweden)
The Predators [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Pietro Castellitto (Italy)
Mainstream - Gia Coppola (USA)
Genus Pan - Lav Diaz (Philippines)
Zanka Contact - Ismaël El Iraki (France/Morocco/Belgium)
Guerra e pace - Martina Parenti, Massimo D'Anolfi (Italy/Switzerland)
La nuit des rois - Philippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast/France/Canada)
The Furnace - Robert Mackay (Australia)
Careless Crime - Shahram Mokri (Iran)
Gaza Mon Amour - Tarzan and Arab Nasser (Palestine/France/Germany/Portugal/Qatar)
Selva trágica - Yulene Olaizola (Mexico/France/Colombia)
Nowhere Special - Uberto Pasolini (Italy/Romania/UK)
Listen - Ana Rocha de Sousa (UK/Portugal)
The Best Is Yet to Come - Wang Jing (China)
Yellow Cat - Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Kazakhstan/France)

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