Venice Film Festival unveils line-up for September

Films starring Dame Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Shia LaBeouf and Vanessa Kirby are among those set to premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in September.

Organisers say the festival is the first major event of its kind since the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of large gatherings worldwide.

Mirren and Broadbent star in comedy-drama The Duke, about a taxi driver who steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.

Dame Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren

Gritty drama Pieces Of A Woman stars Kirby and LaBeouf in a story about a grieving woman’s emotional journey after the loss of her baby.

The selections for the 77th edition, which launches on September 2 on the Venice Lido, are more global and less packed with star-studded Hollywood features than in years past as a result of the ongoing virus outbreak, festival director Alberto Barbera acknowledged.

Barbera said: “This year, to borrow Bob Dylan’s words, the programme contains multitudes of movies, of genres, of points of view. There will be auteur films, comedies, documentaries, horror flicks, gangster movies, and so on.”

Films premiering in competition include Mona Fastvold’s The World To Come about two women who forge a connection in isolation in the mid-19th century. Based on Jim Shepard’s short story, it also stars Kirby, Katherine Waterston and Casey Affleck.

Vanessa Kirby
Vanessa Kirby

Barbera noted that almost half of the competition film selections this year are directed by women. The festival has had notoriously poor gender parity in the past.

The films this year, Barbera said, “were selected exclusively on the basis of their quality and not as a result of gender protocols. This is an unprecedented percentile which we hope augurs well for a future cinema that is free of any sort of prejudice and discrimination”.

Cate Blanchett will be presiding over the main competition jury alongside filmmakers Joanna Hogg, Veronika Franz, Christian Petzold and Cristi Puiu, actor Ludivine Sagnier and writer Nicola Lagioia. They will decide together on the coveted Golden Lion award, which last went to Todd Phillips’ film Joker.

Out-of-competition selections include Luca Guadagnino’s Salvatore Ferragamo documentary The Shoemaker Of Dreams, Nathan Grossman’s Greta, about climate activist Greta Thunberg, and Alex Gibney’s Crazy, Not Insane, about a psychiatrist who works with serial killers like Ted Bundy.

Gia Coppola’s Mainstream, starring Andrew Garfield and Maya Hawke, will debut in the Horizons section, which spotlights newcomers.

The festival will implement various modifications due to ongoing concerns about Covid-19, including a slightly slimmed-down official competition, a reduced number of sections and the addition of two outdoor screening venues, in addition to its traditional venues. Organisers said they will also be adhering to safety measures established by local authorities.