The 78th edition of the Venice International Film Festival kick-started on Wednesday, with Bong Joon-Ho, Chloe Zhao, Penelope Cruz, Pedro Almodovar, Roberto Benigni, and others on the red carpet. Benigni was awarded the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.
The festival is viewed as a bellwether for events like the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Films like Roma and Nomadland, that have received the Golden Lion for the best film, have gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
Almodovar’s Spanish drama Madres Paralelas (Parallel Mothers) opened the festival, this year, and received a five-minute long standing ovation. In her opening speech, Italian actor Serena Rossi expressed solidarity with Afghan directors, writers and actors.
With a streak of highly-anticipated films premiering at the festival, here are eight Hollywood films to look out for:
The American science-fiction comprises an ensemble cast of Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Dave Bautista, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, and Jason Momoa, among others. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Dune is the screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel by the same name, about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy. It will be screened on Friday.
Spencer, featuring Kristen Stewart as the late Princess Diana, chronicles the latter part of her married life with Prince Charles, when during holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana decides to end her marriage. Directed by Pablo Larrain, the film also features actors Jack Farthing, Timothy Spall, Sean Harris, and Sally Hawkins, in pivotal roles. It will be screened on Friday.
The English psychological thriller film, directed by Edgar Wright, follows the story of Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer, who “is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer, Sandie”, as per the festival’s official synopsis. It will premiere at the festival on Saturday.
The Last Duel
The Matt-Damon starrer follows the story of Knight Jean de Carrouges, who “settles his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel”, as per IMDb. Actors Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck also feature in the film. Damon and Affleck share screenplay credits with Nicole Holofcener. Set in 14th century France, The Last Duel is based on the book of the same name by Eric Jager. It will be screened on September 10.
David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills is the twelfth installment in the Halloween franchise. Actors Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle reprise their roles as Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, respectively. The story line, as per the festival’s official synopsis, follows Myers, who goes on a murderous rampage after freeing himself from Laurie’s house and Laurie’s attempts to stop him. It will premiere on September 8.
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon
The Ana Lily Amirpour directorial is a fantasy film that follows a young girl “with unusual powers” who “escapes from a mental asylum and tries to make it on her own in New Orleans,” as per IMDb. The film features actors Jeon Jong-seo, Kate Hudson, Craig Robinson, Evan Whitten, and Ed Skrein. It will be screened on September 5.
The Lost Daughter
Written and directed by actor-director Maggine Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter is based on the book of the same name by Elena Ferrante and will premiere on Friday. The film stars Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Paul Mescal, and Ed Harris. As per the festival’s official synopsis, it follows the life of Leda, who is on a seaside vacation, and becomes “consumed with a young mother and daughter”.
The Power of the Dog
The Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer is directed by Jane Campion. The story revolves around a rancher Phil Burbank. “When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.” It features actors Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee in lead roles, alongside Cumberbatch. It will be screened at the festival on Thursday.
Apart from the eight aforementioned films, 13 other features will compete for the top award. Theatre seating at the festival, that is conducting an in-person event this year, is limited to 4,000.