Earlier today, the lineup for the upcoming Venice International Film Festival was announced and reactions to the news have been percolating through the web. Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli summarized the announcement by saying, “The Venice Film Festival on Thursday unveiled a refreshingly rich mix of established auteurs and lesser-known helmers in its lineup of 71 world preems marked by prominent U.S. and European contingents, but also ample Asian entries, and even robust representations from rarely represented countries such as Egypt and India.” Screen International‘s Sheri Jennings added, “it is arguably one of [festival director] Marco Mueller’s strongest editions during his six year tenure. When asked how the financial downturn had affected the programme at this morning’s press conference, Mueller pointed out that two of the US titles screening – “Capitalism: A Love Story” from Michael Moore and Steven Soderbergh’s “The Informant!” – reflect theme of the US’s economic decline.”
On the awards blog In Contention, Guy Lodge reminisces on the long list of Venice alums that were awards favorites, like “The Wrestler,” “Brokeback Mountain,” and “The Queen,” concluding, “However, looking down the list of list of titles in competition at this year’s fest, it’s hard to tell if there are any selections that could go a similar distance.” You don’t have to look very far to find buzz on film’s included in the lineup. The LA Times‘ awards blog The Gold Derby has this to say on the fest’s entries with awards prospects: “While the two dozen films in contention for prizes at the Venice Film Festival could include several Oscar contenders, two of the movies with the most awards buzz – ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’ and ‘The Informant!’ – are screening out of competition.”
The Huffington Post highlights Michael Moore and former Gucci-exec-turned-director Tom Ford in the headline to their story on the lineup. Werner Herzog’s new fiction film is also gaining a lot of buzz. Cinematical‘s story on the lineup mentions the Abe Ferrarra-Herzog feud, “Herzog will be showing his ‘re-imagining’ of Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, which so incensed Ferrara that he wished dire bodily harm upon Herzog and star Nicolas Cage.” John Hillcoat’s eagerly anticipated adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s wildly popular novel “The Road” has long caught the eye of the Internet community. In October of last year, CHUD revealed the reaction of a test screening attendee that was, well, not so positive. But the studio has taken time to polish the film, and looks to bring on accolades to Viggo Mortensen for his role as a man trudging his way through post-apocalyptic America.
Indie favorite Todd Solondz is back with a new film, “Life During Wartime,” and In Contention anticipates it in their story on the lineup, “Todd Solondz’s first feature in five years, ‘Life During Wartime’, will also make its debut in Venice, adding further intrigue to the lineup. A while ago, the film was announced as a “part-sequel, part-variation” to his 1998 modern classic “Happiness,” with a typically eccentric ensemble including Charlotte Rampling, Allison Janney, Paul Reubens and Paris Hilton. With Solondz, however, there’s no way of knowing what it is until we lay eyes on it.” Zombie godfather George A. Romero is back with another “…of the Dead” film, which got horror fans salivating with a title, “Survival of the Dead,” and stills.
As the festival nears and eventually unfurls itself along the Adriatic Sea, more buzz will undoubtedly build. At this point, opening night film, “Baaria” from “Cinéma Paradiso” director Giuseppe Tornatore, the first Italian opening night film in twenty years, is receiving little online fanfare. The national diversity of this year’s offerings mean that films from countries with a meager history at the festival (or at festivals in general) may end up surprising us all. Add that to the fact that the competition includes a “surprise film” to be announced later.