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Bastion of glamour: The Venice Film Festival looks better than ever

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Cinema’s biggest stars just seem to shine a bit brighter at the Venice International Film Festival, which begins this week in the Northern Italian city.

For director and actor Olivia Wilde, the dream of Venice was woven into the fabric of her new film, “Don’t Worry Darling.”

Ending up at the festival became a shorthand for the type of movie she wanted to make.

“We had several studios and streamers who wanted to make this film and I sat down with all of them and I said, The path that I see leads us to Venice. Which one of you understands what kind of movie were making based on that dream?” Wilde said.

“To me, a Venice film is a film that really embraces everything that is ambitious and romantic and beautiful about cinema. And this film is truly a love letter to movies.”

Wilde went with New Line and Warner Bros. and her wish came true: The stylish psychological thriller starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles will have its world debut out of competition on September 5.

Styles, Pugh and Wilde are just some of the stars expected to grace the red carpet outside of the Palazzo del Cinema.

Their presence, alongside lifetime achievement recipient Catherine Deneuve, Hugh Jackman, Tilda Swinton, Penelope Cruz, Chalamet and many others, helps transform the Lido, the beach town across the Venetian Lagoon from St. Mark’s Square, into a bastion of glamour, fantasy and cinema on the Adriatic.

The main slate

This year’s festival is stacked with highly anticipated films and performances in the main competition slate: Ana de Armas is making her debut as Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s “ Blonde ”; Brendan Fraser’s turn in Darren Aronofsky’s new film “The Whale” is already being hailed as an awards-worthy comeback; and Cate Blanchett is playing a renowned conductor in “ TÁR”, director Todd Field’s first film in over 15 years.

The festival, which is heading into its 79th edition, officially begins on Wednesday night with the premiere of Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s seminal novel “ White Noise”, starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig.

“White Noise” is one of four high-profile Netflix films hoping to make a splash at the festival, which is an important platform not just for the streaming service, but for all Oscar hopefuls.

Baumbach’s last Venice film, “Marriage Story”, went on to get six Oscar nominations and win one for Laura Dern, who is also returning this year in Florian Zeller’s “The Son”.

It’s the first of many fall festivals that will refine the awards conversation for the rest of the year.

Excitement in the air

There are also two narrative debuts from documentarians Frederick Wiseman (“A Couple”) and Alice Diop (“Saint Omer”) that are among the 23 films vying for the Golden Lion.

The coveted award will be decided on by a jury led by Julianne Moore and presented at the festival’s close on September 10.

The films go beyond Hollywood too, of course, with the entire slate boasting works from some 59 countries including several Oscar hopefuls, like Santiago Mitre’s “ Argentina, 1985″ and Romain Gavras’ “ Athena”.

The festival is putting a spotlight on both the war in Ukraine, with a devoted day and the premiere of Evgeny Afineevsky’s documentary about the war, as well as plight of persecuted directors around the world, like imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi whose film “No Bears” is among the competition titles.

After two scaled back editions, it is mostly excitement in the air. The Venice Film Festival is the kind of place that enchants whether you’re a first-timer or an industry veteran.

Published on

August 28, 2022



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