Toronto & Venice Wish List: 40 New Films to Hope For

Toronto & Venice Wish List: 40 New Films to Hope For

Even as Cannes announced its lineup, speculation and predictions loomed about what was in store for the two biggest festivals of the late summer. Last week,Toronto announced a hockey feature will be its opening night film last week, and, yesterday Venice said Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” will kickoff its own fest. So, with those out of the way, it’s high time to make some serious speculations about what’s in store for the mammoths of the pre-fall festival circuit. The 67th edition of the Venice fest will run September 1 – 11, while Toronto will celebrate its 35th edition September 9 – 19. Expectations are mounting for the caliber of films both fests are expected to program, particularly considering the number of high-profile films that unexpectedly weren’t ready in time for Cannes. Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” Sophia Coppola’s “Somewhere,” and Julian Schnabel’s “Miral” are three examples that immediately come to mind.

Even without an unusually large batch of films that just missed the Cannes dates, the Venice and Toronto fests are already huge launching pads for fall fare. This is particularly true for those films gunning for Oscar gold. Last year, half of the ten Best Picture nominees screened at either one or both fests, so it’s possible a good portion of Oscar’s 2010 top ten could very well come from the following wish list of Venice and Toronto premieres. And it looks like there will be plenty for Oscar to choose from: Possible, likely, or essentially assured filmmakers that will hit one or both fests include: The Coen Brothers, Sofia Coppola, Terrance Malick, Julian Schnabel, Wong Kar-wai, Clint Eastwood, Bela Tarr, John Cameron Mitchell, Francois Ozon, Jodie Foster, Susanne Bier, David O. Russell, Gus Van Sant, Danny Boyle, Julie Taymor and Peter Weir. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s a list of 40 films, new movies that haven’t played anywhere yet, indieWIRE’s editorial team has hopes for at the Venice and Toronto festivals.

127 Hours,” directed by Danny Boyle (USA)
Until recently considered a more likely bet for Sundance or Berlin next year, Danny Boyle’s follow-up to “Slumdog Millionaire” is aiming to make it into theaters by the end of 2010. Written by Simon Beaufoy (of “Millionaire”), “Hours” tells the true story of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco), the mountain climber who amputated his own arm to free himself after being trapped by a boulder for nearly five days. It’s a stretch to think it could be ready in time to debut in Venice or Toronto (it entered post in June), but it’s a possibility. [Peter Knegt]

The Beaver,” directed by Jodie Foster (USA)
It will be no easy task to draw positive attention to a film starring Mel Gibson. Especially in one in which he plays a clinically depressed toy company CEO who finds solace through a beaver hand puppet which he uses to communicate with his wife (Jodie Foster, who also directs). Gibson’s troubles aside, this is a bizarre but intriguing choice for Foster’s long-awaited directorial follow-up to 1995’s “Home For The Holidays,” its script – by Kyle Killen – topped the 2008 “Blacklist,” which ranks the best unproduced screenplays. Filming was completed in November 2009, and a big film festival could be a fascinating place for them to try and make this “Beaver” work. [Peter Knegt]

Beginners,” directed by Mike Mills (USA)
The father-son story “Beginners” looks like it’s ready for a premiere at one or both of the fests. For his follow-up to “Thumbsucker,” director Mike Mills snagged Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, and “Inglourious Basterds” standout Mélanie Laurent, which follows Christopher Plummer’s character as he reveals to his son, played by McGregor, that he has terminal cancer and that he is gay. Sexy “ER” star Goran Visnjic plays Plummer’s boyfriend in the film. [Bryce J. Renninger]

Black Swan,” by Darren Aronofsky (USA) [Film Page]
Aronofsky’s latest is already opening Venice, but it’s Toronto fate is unknown. His thriller “Black Swan” stars Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder and Vincent Cassel in his follow up to “The Wrestler” (which premiered at the 2008 Venice and Toronto film festivals and went on to receive a bevvy of accolades including Oscar nominations for stars Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei). In “Black Swan,” a young ballarina finds success in professional ballet, but she is soon faced with a rival who looks like her. [Brian Brooks]

Black Venus,” directed by Abdellatif Kechiche (France/Italy/Belgium)
The film, directed and co-written by actor/director Kechiche is his first directorial work since 2007’s “The Secret of the Grain,” the César-winner for best film in 2008, and it’s likely to have a Venice premiere. “Black Venus” is a biographical film documenting the life of Saartjie Baartman, whose oversized features tore her from South Africa and took her to Europe in the nineteenth century, where she was peddled around as a circus freak while attempting to free herself. [Bryce J. Renninger]

Brighton Rock,” directed by Rowan Joffe (UK) [Film Page]
An adaptation of Graham Greene’s 1938 novel about a petty criminal and his girlfriend on the boardwalk of English beach resort Brighton, “Brighton Rock” marks the feature debut of director Rowan Joffe, and is toplined by Helen Mirren and John Hurt. Joffe is an acclaimed screenwriter in his native England (“28 Days Later”) whose first two scripts, “Last Resort” and “Gas Attack,” won Best New British Feature at the 2000 and 2001 Edinburgh International Film Festivals. He has yet to establish a reputation on this side of the Atlantic. A positive reception at Toronto, combined with good reviews for his script for the George Clooney-starring “The American” (premiering Sept. 1), could change that. [Micah Sachs]

Conviction,” directed by Tony Goldwyn (USA) [Film Page]
Hilary Swank is gunning for Oscar number three in this true story from director/actor Tony Goldwyn. Swank stars as Betty Anne Waters, a high school dropout who spent nearly twenty years trying to overturn her brother’s unjust murder conviction. Sam Rockwell plays the brother, alongside a cast that includes Juliette Lewis and Minnie Driver in this Fox Searchlight release that’s hitting theaters soon after TIFF on October 15, during Oscar’s early season. [Nigel M. Smith]

The Debt,” directed by John Madden (USA) [Film Page]
“Avatar” star Sam Worthington stars as one of three Israeli Mossad agents on the hunt for a Nazi war criminal. The film comes from “Shakespeare in Love” director Madden, and co-stars two of Hollywood’s most respected actors: Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson. Told through flashbacks, the film follows the pair years later as they must repay a debt involved in their original attempted hit. Seems like a recipe for Toronto, Venice, and/or Oscar attention. [Bryce J. Renninger]

The Eagle,” directed by Kevin MacDonald (USA/UK) [Film Page]
Focus has pushed back the release of the film until February, which probably suggests it’s not a safe bet for the fall fest circuit, but Kevin MacDonald’s follow-up to “State of Play” is an interesting dark horse. Adapted from Rosemary Sutcliff’s 1954 book “The Eagle of the Ninth” (based on the legend of the Ninth Legion), the film stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Tahar Rahim, Donald Sutherland and Mark Strong. Historical adventure isn’t typical film fest fare, but with that cast, it could be. [Peter Knegt]

The Fighter“, directed by David O. Russell (USA) [Film Page]
“I Heart Huckabees”‘s David O. Russell nearly had two films ready for the big fall fests. His Christian Bale-Mark Wahlberg boxing drama “The Fighter” is ready to go, and more or less a sure thing to debut at Toronto or Venice. The other film, the Jake Gyllenhall-Jessica Biel political comedy “Nailed,” which was actually Russell’s pre-“Fighter” project, ran into serious financial troubles, production delays and finally, the departure of Russell from the project altogether. [Peter Knegt]

A publicity image from Braden King’s “Here.” [Image provided by filmmaker.]

The Grand Master,” directed by Wong Kar-Wai (Hong Kong)
From auteur Wong Kar-Wai (“In the Mood for Love,” “Chungking Express,” “2046”) comes a bio-pic about martial-arts master Ip Man, a breakthrough figure who instructed the legendary Bruce Lee. Tony Leung stars. Unknown is whether the film is actually finished. But, if it is, Venice would be an obvious place for a premiere. So, we hope. [Eugene Hernandez]

HERE,” directed by Braden King (USA)
King’s dramatic feature debut (he’s previously helmed documentaries and shorts) boasts an impressive pedigree, with support from the major players in the film festival world, including the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab, Rotterdam’s Cinemart Producer’s Lab, the Sundance/NHK Award, Tribeca’s Rockefeller/Renew Media Fellowship, and the Cannes Atelier. Starring Ben Foster, now higher profile thanks to his turn in the acclaimed “The Messenger,” “HERE” is a road movie about a transformative romantic encounter between two loners – an American satellite-mapping engineer and an expatriate Armenian photographer – who find themselves in Armenia traveling together through unexplored terrain. If it doesn’t make a Venice or Toronto trip, the film will be at the top of any Sundance ’11 wish list. [Basil Tsiokos]

The list continues on the next two pages…

Hereafter,” by Clint Eastwood (USA)
Post-production is reportedly complete on “Hereafter,” the 80-year-old Clint Eastwood’s 10th directorial effort in just as many years. With a release date set for October, a fall fest premiere seems like a very reasonable suggestion. The film finds Clint teaming up with “The Queen” writer Peter Morgan and his “Invictus” actor Matt Damon for a supernatural thriller centered on three people touched by death in different ways, Eastwood is taking a step into a genre he’s rarely played with. Whether or not it works out is anyone’s guess, but it’s a good bet that viewers will find out in Venice and/or Toronto. [Peter Knegt]

In a Better World,” directed by Susanne Bier (Denmark)
Danish director Susanne Bier, director of the original 2004 film “Brodre” (to which the 2009 American remake “Brothers” can barely compare), wrote and directed this drama about a Holocaust survivor who meets the twin sister he believed had died in the concentration camps. The film also star’s “Brodre”‘s Ulrich Thomsen. [Nigel M. Smith]

It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (USA) [Film Page]
Directorial duo Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden follow-up dramas “Half Nelson” and “Sugar” with their first foray into dark comedy: “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” Adapted from the 2006 novel by American author Ned Vizzini, the film follows a depressed teenager who becomes suicidal and checks himself into a psychiatric hospital. Starring Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Zoë Kravitz and Lauren Graham, the film – getting great buzz via its promising trailer – is already set for release via Focus Features come late September, making a Toronto launch a very reasonable suggestion. [Peter Knegt]

An image from Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.”

The King’s Speech,” directed by Tom Hooper (UK) [Film Page]
After last year’s well-received “The Damned United,” director Tom Hooper appears to have broken out of the prestige-TV box (Channel 4’s “Elizabeth I,” HBO’s “John Adams”) with “The King’s Speech,” about King George VI’s attempts to overcome his stutter. With their cast of Anglo acting greats (Colin Firth, Guy Pearce, Geoffrey Rush, Derek Jacobi), “Speech”‘s producers are surely hoping to generate some Oscar buzz this fall. Toronto would be a natural launching pad. [Micah Sachs]

Little White Lies,” directed by Guillaume Canet (France)
Guillaume Canet’s last directorial effort “Tell No One” was an unqualified success for the French wunderkind (and heartthrob), placing him at the forefront of European directors to watch. His new film, “Little White Lies,” didn’t make it to Cannes, leaving many to believe Canet seems poised to take Venice and/or Toronto by storm with his latest directorial effort. It helps that he cast Marion Cotillard in the lead. Set for an October release in France, his film follows a successful restaurant owner and his eco-friendly wife who stage a grand vacation for friends at their beach house. Predictably, all hell breaks loose. [Nigel M. Smith]

London Boulevard,” directed by William Monahan (USA) [Film Page]
A safe bet for Toronto, “The Departed” scribe William Monahan makes his directorial debut with this romantic crime drama starring Keira Knightley and Colin Farrell (both of whom could make multiple appearances in Toronto). The film follows a reclusive movie star (Knightley) who hides out from the world in a Holland Mansion, befriending a London criminal recently released from prison (Farrell). Monahan (who also wrote the script, based on Ken Bruen’s novel) is an unproven directorial talent, but the supporting cast of David Thewlis, Anna Friel and Ray Winstone should only help in changing that. [Peter Knegt]

Love & Other Drugs,” directed by Edward Zwick (USA)
Probably more suited for Toronto than Venice, this re-teaming of “Brokeback Mountain” not-quite-couple Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway is based on Jamie Reidy’s memoir “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.” Reportedly gross out comedy meets romantic drama, Gyllenhaal plays said Viagra salesman, who meets Hathaway’s character – who has Parkinson’s Disease (cue Oscar buzz) – while on the job. A love affair ensues, and one can only assume it’s made all the more enjoyable by supporting cast members Hank Azaria, Judy Greer and Oliver Platt. Director Zwick (who also co-wrote the script) is definitely hit and miss, but his work with relationship dramas on television (“My So-Called Life,” “Once and Again”) suggests he could be more than capable of making “Love” a must see on the fall fest circuit. [Peter Knegt]

“Made in Dagenham,” directed by Nigel Cole (UK) [Film Page]
Who doesn’t love a good crowd-pleaser? Nigel Cole (“Calendar Girls”) directs this uplifting true story, which recounts the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where female workers walked out in protest of sexual discrimination. The film stars a who’s who of British talent, including Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Rosamund Pike, and Miranda Richardson as political firebrand Barbara Castle. [Nigel M. Smith]

Meek’s Cutoff,” directed by Kelly Reichardt (USA)
Reichardt’s last film, “Wendy & Lucy,” debuted to very warm notices in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes (even winning the Palme Dog prize for its co-star, Lucy). Her ambitious follow-up, a western entitled “Meek’s Cutoff,” may wait until that fest’s 2011 edition to premiere, though the fact that it’s been in post-production since December 2009 suggests otherwise. Reichardt re-teams with “Wendy” star Michelle Williams for the film, as well as Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood and Zoe Kazan. Set in 1845 on the Oregon Trail, it follows a wagon team of three families as they head through the Cascade Mountains. [Peter Knegt]

Miral,” directed by Julian Schnabel [Film Page]
Artist/filmmaker Julian Schnabel has essentially made it clear that “Miral,” his follow-up to “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” will be heading to Venice, and it can be assumed, Toronto as well. The new movie stars Freida Pinto, Willem Dafoe and Alexander Siddig. This time around, Schnabel focuses the lense on another true story. “Miral” takes a look at Hind Husseini and her quest to build an orphanage in Jerusalem in the wake of the establishment of Israel in 1948. [Brian Brooks]

Neds,” directed by Peter Mullan (UK) [Film Page]
It took seven years for actor and newbie director Peter Mullan to complete his follow up to his Golden Lion winning second feature “The Magdalene Sisters,” so anticipation is running high on this one. Set in 1973 Glasgow, the film centers on a youngster who becomes embroiled in gang culture. Mullan, who also scripted the film, has described “Neds” as being a semi-autobiographical work. Production is listed as completed, so it’s expected to be ready in time for TIFF. [Nigel M. Smith]

An image from Mark Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go.” [Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight]

Never Let Me Go,” directed by Mark Romanek (UK/USA) [Film Page]
Set for release in the U.S. via Fox Searchlight on September 15th, sci-fi drama “Never Let Me Go” is all but assured to hit at least Toronto in the week prior. Music video director-turned filmmaker Romanek’s first film since his 2002 debut “One Hour Photo,” “Never Let Me Go” is based on Kazuo Ishiguro haunting, award-winning novel that follows three friends who uncover that their years spent at a boarding school were drastically far from what they assumed. Boasting an impressive cast including Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, new “Spiderman” Andrew Garfield, Sally Hawkins and Charlotte Rampling, “Never Let Me Go” could be something quite special. [Peter Knegt]

Norwegian Wood,” directed by Anh Hung Tran (Japan) [Film Page]
Vietnamese director Anh Hung Tran’s latest, based on the novel by Haruki Murakami, stars Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”) and Kenichi Matsuyama about a couple whose relationship is haunted by the death of their best friend years before. Also of note is a score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood who also did music for “There Will Be Blood.” Notably, the filmmakers recently secured the rights to use The Beatles’ original “Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown)” in the film. Fortissimo, always a tour de force on the fest circuit, is repping the film. If this isn’t in, I’ll eat my hat. [Brian Brooks]

Potiche,” directed by Francois Ozon (France) [Film Page]
A pretty sure bet. Its November French release suggests Gallic auteur Ozon is headed for a Toronto debut, as he did with his last film, “Le Refuge” and the earlier “Under the San.” “Potiche” is an adaptation of a French play set in a bourgeois province in 1977 and starring a veritable who’s who of the country’s best thesps, including Gerard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve, Ludivine Sagnier, Cecile De France, and Jeremie Renier. [Basil Tsiokos]

The list continues on the next page…

An image from John Cameron Mitchell’s “The Rabbit Hole.”

Rabbit Hole,” directed by John Cameron Mitchell (USA) [Film Page]
John Cameron Mitchell caught more than a few folks off guard when it was announced that his third feature would be an adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Rabbit Hole.” It marks both the first time Mitchell’s directed someone else’s screenplay, and the first time he’s worked with big-name actors – in this case Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. Mitchell has some considerably promising material to work with here. Following a family coping with the death of their young son, “Rabbit Hole” was a major success on Broadway, earning Cynthia Nixon a Tony for the role Kidman is now playing. And even if it’s a far cry from “Hedwig,” if there’s one thing Mitchell can bring from that work it’s his ability to translate from stage to screen. The film has completed production, so perhaps we’ll find out whether that’s true come September. [Peter Knegt]

Restless,” directed by Gus Van Sant (USA)
Van Sant’s latest began shooting in last November and is reportedly in post, so finger’s crossed it hits the fall fest circuit. His latest finds Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”) starring in a story about a mortality-obsessed teenage couple who crash funerals and are regularly visited by the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot. The film also includes the notable involvement of the progeny of Hollywood luminaries, including co-producer Bryce Dallas Howard and actors Henry Hopper (son of Dennis) and Schuyler Fisk (daughter of Sissy Spacek). If the film is finished, it would seem like an obvious choice for Venice and/or Toronto. [Basil Tsiokos]

Room in Rome” (Habitacion en Roma), directed by Julio Medem (Spain) [Film Page]
Medem has had a history of premiering films at the Toronto fest (“Sex and Lucia,” “Chaotic Ana”), so it’s likely his newest, reportedly completed or close to it, could find its way to the fest come fall. The film tells the story of a passionate night of casual sex between two women in a hotel room. IFC Films made the unusual move of acquiring “Room in Rome” while still in production, suggesting they really liked what they saw. Given the stunning visuals of its sexually explicit trailer, we expect the film to generate heat wherever it ends up screening. [Basil Tsiokos]

The Rum Diary,” directed by Bruce Robinson (USA) [Film Page]
Director Bruce Robinson, best known for cult classic “Withnail & I,” hasn’t directed a film since “Jennifer Eight” (1992), but he’s rounded up some A-list talent for his newest effort. More importantly “The Rum Diary” reunites Johnny Depp with Hunter S. Thompson (“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”), upon whose novel the film is based. It screened in the Cannes Market, but not the festival itself, but could very well have its official debut here. In the movie, Johnny Depp stars as Paul Kemp, a freelance journalist who goes through a mid-life crisis while writing for a run-down newspaper in the Caribbean of all places. Rounding out the cast is Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins and Amber Head. [Nigel Smith]

A Sad Trumpet Ballad,” directed by Alex de la Iglesia (Spain) [Film Page]
Could 2010 be the year Spain’s Alex de la Iglesia joins the first rank of internationally known Spanish filmmakers? First, in August, comes the stateside debut of “Oxford Murders,” a thriller that won three Goya awards in 2009. Then, slated to premiere at the end of the year in Spain, comes “A Sad Trumpet Ballad,” a typically bizarre story about two scarred clowns who compete for the love of a trapezist during the Franco-era in Spain. An early premiere at Toronto could raise the profile of this cult director whose style has been likened to Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. [Micah Sachs]

Somewhere,” directed by Sofia Coppola (USA) [Film Page]
Pretty much already confirmed, “Somewhere” will join Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” as a Venice-Toronto debut (she was on the verge of giving birth at the time of Cannes, which is rumored to be the reason for the delay). The film follows Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a Hollywood bad-boy, stumbling through a life of excess at the Chateau Marmont when he receives an unexpected visit from his 11-year-old daughter, played by Elle Fanning. Scenes from the film are said to be somewhat inspired by Coppola’s own childhood experiences with father Francis Ford Coppola. [Peter Knegt]

The Tempest,” directed by Julie Taymor (USA) [Film Page]
Once suggested for a late 2009 release (it finished shooting in January of last year, we could finally find Julie Taymor’s Shakespeare adaptation “The Tempest” debuting come September. Featuring an impressive ensemble cast (Helen Mirren, David Strathairn, Djimon Hounsou, Alan Cumming, Alfred Molina, Chris Cooper, Ben Whishaw and Felicity Jones), the fantastical thriller would be Taymor’s third film to premiere at the fall fests, after “Frida”‘s debut in Venice and “Across The Universe” in Toronto (“Titus” didn’t do the festival circuit). [Peter Knegt]

The Town,” directed by Ben Affleck (USA) [Film Page]
Ben Affleck returns to the director seat for the follow-up to his critically acclaimed directorial debut “Gone Baby Gone.” Affleck has once again co-penned another Boston set crime tale, and co-stars alongside a star-studded lineup that includes Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall and Chris Cooper. The trailer, which premiered in multiplexes when “Inception” hit theaters, promises romance, action, lots of double crossing, and a commanding central performance from Affleck in what looks like a cross between “The Departed” and Affleck’s first feature. Toronto would be an ideal launching pad for this hard-hitting potential Oscar contender. [Nigel M. Smith]

Three,” directed by Tom Tykwer (Germany)
Director of the vastly overlooked “Heaven” (based on a screenplay by the late Krysztof Kieslowski), Tom Tykwer’s latest marks a return to his German roots, following the high profile films “The International” and “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.” The Berlin-set drama, currently listed as in post-production, centers on a 40-something couple who separately fall in love with the same man. Sounds juicy. [Nigel M Smith]

An image from Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere.” [Image courtesy of Focus Features]

The Tree of Life,” by Terrence Malick (USA)
Much speculation surrounded whether this film was heading to Cannes or not. When it didn’t, it was essentially assured Malick’s fifth feature would debut in Venice and then screen in Toronto. But then its U.S. distributor Apparition fell apart, and the film’s future all of a sudden looked challenged. The film is done (its been submitted for rating with the MPAA), and if there’s going to be a place to find a new life for “Tree,” it’s in Venice and Toronto. (The fact that Malick is already moving onto a new movie makes it even more likely that fest audiences would see this one soon.) In the “Tree of Life,” the reclusive and greatly acclaimed filmmaker brings together actors Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in what is said to be a 1950s period piece about a Midwestern boy’s journey from childhood to adult years in which he is “a lost soul in the modern world.” Malick’s four previous efforts (“Badlands,” “Days of Heaven,” “The Thin Red Line” and “The New World”) each have their fair share of passionate supporters, and there’s no reason to believe “Life” will be any different. [Peter Knegt]

True Grit,” by Joel and Ethan Coen (USA)
It’s very rare for a Coen Brothers film to not make a few festival stops before hitting theaters. In fact, the last of their films to not debut at either Sundance, Cannes, Venice or Toronto was 1990’s “Miller’s Crossing.” So one would think their latest would do the same, though the fact that it only started filming this past March suggests it might be cutting it close. If it does make it, though, it should be a very interesting addition to the Coens’ oeuvre. Starring Coen alums Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin, as well as first-timer Matt Damon, the film is adapted from the 1968 Charles Protis novel, which has already been adapted into a film once before: the 1969 film that finally won John Wayne an Oscar. [Peter Knegt]

The Turin Horse,” directed by Bela Tarr (Hungary/France/Germany) [Film Page]
According to Ion Cinema, Tarr’s latest is, “freely inspired by an episode that marked the end of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s career.” Enough said. [Eugene Hernandez]

La Vida Util,” directed by Federico Veiroj (Uruguay)
A local Uruguayan film critic stars as Jorge, the cinematheque owner in “La vida util” whose life has been defined by his cinephilia. With his film archive in crisis, it’s an understatement to say that he’s facing a dramatic transition as the structures of his existence crumble. The black-and-white movie, made with film stock that Veiroj won at a film festival, is the director’s second feature, a follow-up to 2008s “Acne,” which debuted in Cannes before winning a number of other fest prizes. The film won a work-in-progress award at the San Sebastian fest last year and will have a local premiere in Uruguay next month, making a festival debut a strong possibility. [Eugene Hernandez]

The Way Back,” directed by Peter Weir (USA)
Peter Weir (“The Truman Show,” “Dead Poet’s Society”) is already generating Oscar buzz for his direction of “The Way Back.” With a cast that includes Colin Farrell, Ed Harris and Saoirse Ronan, the fact-based drama centering around a group of soldiers who escaped from a Siberian gulag in 1940, is bound to generate more buzz at Venice, Toronto and/or beyond. [Nigel M. Smith]

What’s Wrong With Virginia?” directed by Dustin Lance Black (USA)
“Milk” writer Dustin Lance Black’s “What’s Wrong With Virginia” appears to be nearly ready to go and it’s definitely one to watch for. The film stars Ed Harris as a sheriff who sees his state senate bid slide out when his daughter (Emma Roberts) begins dating the son of a psychologically disturbed woman (Jennifer Connelly) who he has had a two-decades long affair with. It’s difficult to tell where this film belongs, but Black’s cred was recently boosted by the news he would be writing the latest project (a Herbert Hoover biopic no less) from another potential Venice/Toronto 2010 player, Clint Eastwood. [Peter Knegt]

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