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The Venice Film Festival unveiled its lineup this afternoon, and it looks much as we expected it would -- but lest we sound too blasé, who would ever have thought a few years ago that we'd see Terrence Malick debuting two new features in consecutive years? Wonders will never cease, if you'll forgive the lousy pun. "To the Wonder" is obviously the film that most Lido-bound journos are salivating over, but festival director Antonio Barbera revealed that he has one title left to announce -- and the smart money is on it being Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."
Anderson's film, which hasn't -- yet -- turned up in the Toronto lineup, would represent a major coup for the Italian fest. Venice can't compete with Toronto for sheer star power, not least because it's a much smaller affair, but that selectiveness, plus its longstanding jury awards, comfortably give it the edge in prestige.
Newly appointed festival director Alberto Barbera, who has deliberately slimmed the Venice programme down from previous years, took a sly dig at Toronto in emphasising his quality-over-quantity approach: "In preparing Venice I have very much admired and envied my friend and colleague who heads the Toronto Film Festival. He has an easy job: he can take 350 movies, and therefore accept almost anything. We have chosen a much tougher path, in which, after lots of discussions, we had to say 'no' a lot. And it was very tough."
That may be largely true, though it's also a upper-hand alibi for any surprise omissions from the lineup. Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," for example, had been widely expected to premiere on the Lido, not least because "Atonement" opened the festival in 2007 -- did Barbera turn it down, or did the film's handlers prefer to debut internationally in Toronto? The truth will seep out at some point.
Such omissions, as well as many of the inclusions, could be easily deduced in advance from Monday's Toronto announcement: when "To the Wonder," for example, was listed merely as a North American premiere, the writing was on the wall for a Venice premiere. Ditto Ramin Bahrani's "At Any Price," a father-son drama starring Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid, and Robert Redford's "The Company You Keep," a political thriller in which he stars opposite Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon and Julie Christie -- though the latter will unspool out of competition.
The biggest aces in Venice's hand, of course, are the films that currently aren't scheduled for a Toronto showing, and those include some big ones. "Something in the Air" is Olivier Assayas's first feature since the mammoth undertaking that was "Carlos." (It's also his first to premiere on the Lido -- he's more used to the home soil of Cannes.) Brian DePalma's "Passion," an erotic thriller starring Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams, was always expected to show up here, given the director's recent history with the festival -- "The Black Dahlia" opened the fest in 2006, and he won Best Director the following year for his last feature, "Redacted." (Incidentally, between DePalma and Malick, that makes two Venice dates for McAdams: if she's good in either, or both, could she be one to watch for the Best Actress prize? Juries love hard workers.)
Other (currently) exclusive gets for Venice include Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers," starring James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens -- now there are two names you wouldn't expect to see on the red carpet there. Also: Filipino provocateur Brillante Mendoza's "Thy Womb," which will play in Competition not seven months after his last feature, the widely disliked (though rather good) "Captured" premiered at Berlin. (That film, incidentally, was turned down by both Venice and Cannes last year, so clearly no grudges have been held.) Mendoza's excellent, still-unreleased "Lola," incidentally, premiered as Venice's annual surprise film in 2009.
Another festival two-timer this year is Ulrich Seidl, whose frequently brilliant, frequently repulsive and inevitably divisive sex-tourism study "Paradise: Love" premiered in Competition at Cannes in this spring. The film was said to be the first in a trilogy, and true enough, part two -- obviously titled "Paradise: Faith" -- will show up in Venice. Neither "Love" nor "Faith" have shown up in the Toronto lineup, though perhaps they're too prickly for that crowd.
Presumably, Toronto would be more interested in getting their hands on Susanne Bier's "Love Is All You Need," which is also only on the Venice roster at this stage. Bier's first feature since the Oscar-winning "In a Better World," it's also her second stab at English-language filmmaking -- though it sounds a lighter effort than 2007's "Things We Lost in the Fire." An alleged romantic comedy starring Pierce Brosnan and Paprika Steen, it's playing out of competition. Strangely, considering her status in Europe, she has yet to compete at any of the three Euro-fest majors -- though maybe that's a choice on her part.
There's plenty else to whet the appetite -- new works from Xavier Giannoli, Takeshi Kitano and Manoel de Oliveira, among others, as well as documentaries from Spike Lee, Jonathan Demme and Michael Mann, who, of course, is doing double duty as president of the Competition jury. That's a lot to work with, whether or not we get Paul Thomas Anderson into the bargain. Roll on August 29, from which date I'll be covering the full festival for the fourth year running.
Full lineup below:
"Something In The Air" (Apres Mai), Olivier Assayas (France)
"At Any Price," Ramin Bahrani (USA)
"Dormant Beauty" (Bella Addormentata), Marco Bellocchio (Italy-France)
"La Cinquieme Saison" (The Fifth Season), Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth (Belgium-Netherlands-France)
"Fill The Void" (Lemale Et Ha'Chalal), Rama Burshtein (Israel)
"E Stato il Figlio," Daniele Cipri (Italy)
"Un Giorno Speciale," Francesca Comencini (Italy)
"Passion," Brian De Palma (France-Germany)
"Superstar," Xavier Giannoli (France-Belgium)
"Pieta," Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)
"Outrage Beyond," Takeshi Kitano (Japan)
"Spring Breakers," Harmony Korine (USA)
"To The Wonder," Terrence Malick (USA)
"Thy Womb" (Sinapupunan), Brillante Mendoza (Philippines)
"Linhas de Wellington," Valeria Sarmiento (Portugal-France)
"Paradise: Faith" (Paradies: Glaube), Ulrich Seidl (Austria-France-Germany)
"Betrayal" (Izmena), Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia)
OUT OF COMPETITION
"L'homme qui rit," Jean-Pierre Ameris (France-Czech Republic) (Closing Film)
"Love Is All You Need," Susanne Bier (Denmark/Sweden)
"Cherchez Hortense," Pascal Bonitzer (France)
"Sur un fil," Simon Brook (France/Italy)
"Enzo Avitabile Music Life," Jonathan Demme (Italy-USA)
"Tai Chi 0," Stephen Fung (China)
"Lullaby to My Father," Amos Gitai (Israel-France-Switzerland)
"Shokuzai" (Penance), Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Japan)
"Bad 25," Spike Lee (USA)
"The Reluctant Fundamentalist," Mira Nair (India-Pakistan-USA) (Opening Film)
"O Gebo e a Sombra," Manoel de Oliveira (Portugal-France)
"The Company You Keep," Robert Redford (USA)
"Shark (Bait 3D)," Kimble Rendall (Australia-Singapore-China)
"Disconnect," Henry-Alex Rubin (USA)
"The Iceman," Ariel Vromen (USA)
OUT OF COMPETITION -- Special Events
"Anton tut ryadom" (Anton's Right Here), Lyubov Arkus (Russia)
"Ya Man Aach" (It Was Better Tomorrow), Hinde Boujemaa (Italy)
"Clarisse," Liliana Cavani (Italy)
"Sfiorando il muro," Silvia Giralucci & Luca Ricciardi (Italy)
"Carmel," Amos Gitai (Israel-France-Italy)
"El impenetrable," Daniele Incalcaterra & Fausta Quattrini (Argentina-France)
"Witness: Libya," Michael Mann (USA)
"Medici con l'Africa," Carlo Mazzacurati (Italy)
"Witness:Libya," Abdallah Omeish (USA)
"La nave dolce," Daniele Vicari (Italy-Albania)
"Wadjda," Haifaa Al Mansour (Saudi Arabia-Germany)
"Khanéh Pedari" (The Paternal House), Kianoosh Ayari (Iran)
"Ja Tozhe Hochu" (I Also Want It), Alexey Balabanov (Russia)
"Gli equilibristi," Ivano De Matteo (Italy-France)
"L'intervallo," Leonardo Di Costanzo (Italy-Switzerland-Germany)
"El Sheita Elli Fat" (Winter of Discontent), Ibrahim El Batout (Egypt)
"Tango Libre," Frédéric Fonteyne (Belgium-France-Luxembourg)
"Menatek Ha-Maim" (The Cutoff Man), Idan Hubel (Israel)
"Gaosu tamen, wo cheng baihe qu le" (Fly with the Crane), Li Ruijun (China)
"Kapringen" (A Hijacking), Tobias Lindholm (Denmark)
"Leones," Jazmin Lopez (Argentina-France-Netherlands)
"Bellas Mariposas," Salvatore Mereu (Italy)
"Low Tide," Roberto Minervini (USA-Italy-Belgium)
"Boxing Day," Bernard Rose (UK-USA)
"Yema," Djamila Sahraoui (Algeria-France)
"Araf" (Somewhere in Between), Yesim Ustaoglu (Turkey)
"Sennen no Yuraku" (The Millennial Rapture), Koji Wakamatsu (Japan)
"San Zi Mei" (Three Sisters), Wang Bing (France-Hong Kong)
HORIZONS SHORT FILMS
"Las manos limpias," Carlos Armella (Mexico)
"Bansulli" (The Flute), Min Bham (Nepal)
"O Afinador," Fernando Camargo & Matheus Parizi (Brazil)
"Resistente," Renate Costa & Salla Sorri (Denmark-Finland-Paraguay)
"La sala," Alessio Giannone (Italy)
"Marla," Nick King (Australia)
"Miracle Boy," Jake Mahaffy (USA)
"Living Still Life," Bertrand Mandico (France-Belgium-Germany)
"Frank-Étienne vers la béatitude," Constance Meyer (France)
"I'm the One," Paola Morabito (Australia)
"Luisa no está en casa," Celia Rico Clavellino (Spain)
"Cargo," Carlo Sironi (Italy)
"Cho-De" (Invitation), Yoo Min-young (South Korea)
"Titloi Telous" (Out of Frame), Yorgos Zois (Greece)
"Diamond Sutra," Tsai Ming-liang (Chinese Taipei)
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