Cannibals, comedy and a cinema icon share Venice limelight

A Marilyn Monroe drama, a cannibal road movie and a black comedy about family life are among the stories showcased at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

The world’s oldest film festival, regarded as a launch pad for Oscar contenders as awards season approaches, runs from Aug. 31 to September 10, and features dozens of hotly anticipated movies both in and out of competition.

Among the leading lights expected to show up on the red carpet will be Timothée Chalamet, Sadie Sink, Adam Driver, Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, Penelope Cruz, Ana de Armas, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Christoph Waltz and Sigourney Weaver.

International art house directors will share the stage with established Hollywood figures, as pictures by Darren Aronofsky, Andrew Dominik, Alejandro Inarritu, Luca Guadagnino, Joanna Hogg, Koji Fukada and Jafar Panahi get their first outing.

Four originals by the TV streaming giant Netflix line up in the 23-title competition section, including Dominik’s “Blonde”, which stars de Armas in a fictionalised take on the tragic life of U.S. actress Monroe.

For the first time, Netflix gets the honour of opening the festival with Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise” starring Driver and Greta Gerwig – a satiric chronicle of family life that is based on a novel of the same name by Don DeLillo.

One of the most anticipated films is likely to be “Bones and All” featuring Chalamet alongside rising star Taylor Russell as impoverished cannibal lovers in a picture directed by Italy’s Luca Guadagnino.

“It analyses the poorest and most marginalised in America, the failure of the American Dream,” the festival’s artistic director, Alberto Barbera, said on Tuesday.

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Aronofsky’s “The Whale” tells the tale of an obese man, played by Brendan Fraser, trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter, played by “Stranger Things” actor Sink.

Festival regular Cate Blanchett, who presided over the jury in 2020, returns a competition hopeful with the film “TÁR”, directed by Todd Field – a fictional tale about a famed composer and conductor, who leads a major German orchestra.

This year’s main jury is led by Julianne Moore.

“TÁR” is one of nine U.S.-produced movies in competition, with five from France, four from Italy and two from Iran – including “No Bears” by Panahi, who was last week ordered to serve a six-year prison sentence in Iran after being convicted of propaganda against the Islamic Republic in 2010.

Venice often provides a first glimpse of future Oscar winners such as “Birdman” in 2015. Its director, Inarritu, returns to the city’s Lido island with his latest movie – “Bardo” a Spanish-language Netflix comedy set in Mexico.

Likewise Martin McDonagh premiered “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in Venice in 2017 which went on to scoop multiple awards. His follow-up “The Banshees Of Inisherin”, set in Ireland and starring Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, will get its first showing on the Lido.

As ever, some of the out-of-competition films will receive as much attention as those pushing for the Golden Lion prize.

These include psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling”, directed by Wilde and featuring Florence Pugh and Styles, “Dead For a Dollar”, a Western by Walter Hill starring Waltz and a documentary “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” by Evgeny Afineevsky.

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