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Which Fall Films Will Land at Venice? Michael Mann President of Jury; Fest Directors On the Move

Which Fall Films Will Land at Venice? Michael Mann President of Jury; Fest Directors On the Move

One Cannes hot topic: which fall films will show at Venice, Telluride, New York or Toronto on the fest circuit that kicks off award season? Harvey Weinstein showed footage from two key titles, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, and David O. Russell’s comedy “The Silver Linings Playbook,” starring Bradley Cooper, which are both near-finished. Anderson has largely eschewed the fall fest route–remember, he took “There Will Be Blood” to Austin’s Fantastic Fest. Exotic Venice might be able to lure him, as it doesn’t make as many media demands on talent.

Fest directors at Cannes such as Toronto’s Cameron Bailey, Telluride’s Gary Meyer, Venice’s Alberto Barbera, and Richard Pena, booking his final New York Film Fest before he retires after 25 years, were also salivating over Terrence Malick’s rumored-to-be-done movie “To the Wonder” starring Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams. Anticipation is also high for director Affleck’s own “Argo,” Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” starring Daniel Day Lewis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tom Hooper’s epic musical “Les Miserables,” starring Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman. Expected to be last-minute year-end deliveries are Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.”

La Biennale di Venezia just named innovative American filmmaker Michael Mann as president of the international competition jury for the 69th Venice International Film Festival (his first tour of duty at an international fest). Darren Aronofsky and Quentin Tarantino have also done the honors, awarding the Golden Lion and other prizes, in the past. Mann is a respected Chicago-born producer (TV’s “Miami Vice,” “Crime Story”) and writer-director (“Manhunter,” “Heat,” “Insider,” “Ali,” “Collateral,” “Public Enemies”). TOH! London correspondent Matt Mueller will be covering (August 29 – September 8 2012).

Venice is under new leadership, as longtime director Marco Mueller has moved onto the Rome Film Fest, which finally picked new dates and venue for 2012. The Venice Board of Directors, chaired by Paolo Baratta, brought in new director Alberto Barbera, who has a long relationship with New York-based programmer Giulia d’Agnolo Vallan, who stayed at the more established and stable fest rather than follow Mueller to Rome. (Vallan programmed this month’s must-see spaghetti western fest at Film Forum, including the original “Django,” starring Franco Nero).

Changes are also afoot at the New York Film Festival. The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s new executive director Rose Kuo is moving deliberately–some say far too slowly–to replace Pena, who leaves at year’s end. She finally posted the NYFF job, described as “program director,” someone working closely with the exec director, just before Cannes, and was meeting with candidates on the Croisette. Kuo, who has programmed many fests including LA’s AFI FEST, is looking to become more involved in the NYFF programming, which is picked by a rotating selection committee, especially the major opening, closing, and centerpiece slots. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out. Will she bring in someone powerful, or less established?

Who else is in the running? Kuo may want her own FSLC critic-programmer Scott Foundas to get the job. Toronto’s Noah Cowan, who programs the Bell Lightbox and used to have Bailey’s director gig, is a strong possibility. Venice’s Vallan might be ready to move up to a directing position. Another name that comes up is brainy frequent NYT contributor and Malaysia Film Fest programmer Dennis Lim, who has served on the NYFF selection committee, but may lack the showmanship required of a front-man for a major New York Festival. Respected Newsweek critic David Ansen, who is going strong programming the Los Angeles Film Festival, may be deemed too close to retirement age himself if the NYFF is looking for someone to put in another quarter century.  UPDATE: NYT critic Manohla Dargis, Harvard’s Haden Guest and Locarno’s Olivier Pere are also in the hopper. Any other ideas for strong NYFF candidates?

Meanwhile the San Francisco International Film Festival is still searching for a replacement for Bingham Ray, who had just begun his tenure there when he was sadly felled by a stroke at Sundance in January.

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