Venice 2013: Venezia 70 programme preview

With the rise of the encroaching Toronto, the domestic competition offered by Rome and a hugely successful Cannes this year, the 70th Venice Film Festival – which begins on 28 August – is facing some pretty stiff competition. The lineup, however, is on the face of it relatively low-key, though there are some very interesting possibilities and potential surprises. Regular attendee George Clooney opens proceedings with Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, whilst in the main competition lie a mix of old hands – Errol Morris with his Donald Rumsfeld documentary, Hayao Miyazaki’s last fable – along with fresh talents such as Kelly Reichardt (Night Moves) and Jonathan Glazer (with his Birth follow-up, Under the Skin).

Terry Gilliam also returns after an elongated absence, his The Zero Theorem starring Christoph Waltz as a hacker searching for the meaning of existence. The film hopefully marks a return to form for a filmmaker who has had a patchy decade or two, marked by some dreadful bad luck. James Franco has yet to silence his critics, but gamely proffers his second film of this year’s festival season. Having adapted Faulkner with Cannes’ As I Lay Dying, at Venice he turns his attention to Cormac McCarthy with Child of God, starring himself and Tim Blake Nelson. The English-language contingent is swelled by Stephen Frears’ Philomena, JFK drama Parkland and Nicolas Cage drama Joe, directed David Gordon Green.

Italian offerings include Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary Sacra GRA and Gianni Amelio’s L’inrepido, starring the brilliant Antonio Albanese. Asia cinema is similarly well-represented, with prolific Taiwanese director and former Golden Lion winner Tsai Ming-liang on the Lido in support of Stray Dogs, a tale from the sharp end of life in Taipei. Last year’s winner Kim Ki-duk is also back with new film Moebius, showing out of competition alongside Alex Gibney’s Lance Armstrong doc and the Brett Easton Ellis-scripted, Lindsay Lohan-starring The Canyons. To borrow the title of the Morris’ latest, there are a number of unknown ‘unknowns’ to this year’s festival, but in the absence of many superstar directors (Miyazaki counting as the possible exception), the field is open for some rich moments of discovery.

Opening Night Film
Gravity, dir. Alfonso  Cuarón

Closing Night Film
Amazonia, dir. Thierry Ragobert

Ana Arabia, dir. Amos Gitai
Child of God, dir. James Franco
Die Frau des Polizisten (The Police Officer’s Wife), dir. Philip Gröning
L’intrepido, dir. Gianni Amelio
La Jalousie, dir. Philippe Garrel
Jiaoyou (Stray Dogs), dir. Tsai Ming-liang
Joe, dir. David Gordon Green
Kaze Tachinu, dir. Hayao Miyazaki
Miss Violence, dir. Alexandros Avranas
Night Moves, dir. Kelly Reichardt
Parkland, dir. Peter Landesman
Philomena, dir. Stephen Frears
Sacro GRA, dir. Gianfranco Rosi
Es-Stouh (The Rooftops), dir. Merzak Allouache
Tom at the Farm, dir. Xavier Dolan
Tracks, dir. John Curran
Under the Skin, dir. Jonathan Glazer
The Unknown Known: the Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld, dir. Errol Morris
Via Castellana Bandiera, dir. Emma Dante
The Zero Theorem, dir. Terry Gilliam

Out of Competition
Die Andere Heimat (Home from Home – Chronicle of a Vision), dir. Edgar Reitz
The Armstrong Lie, dir. Alex Gibney
At Berkeley, dir. Frederick Wiseman
The Canyons, dir. Paul Schrader
Che strano chiamarsi Federico Scola racconta Fellini, dir. Ettore Scola
Feng Ai (‘Till Madness Do Us Apart), dir. Wang Bing
Locke, dir. Steven Knight
Moebius, dir. Kim Ki-duk
Pine Ridge, dir. Anna Eborn
Space Pirate Captain Harlock, dir. Aramaki Shinji
Summer 82: When Zappa Came to Sicily, dir. Salvo Cuccia
Ukraina ne Bordel (Ukraine is not Brothel), dir. Kitty Green
Walesa: Czlowiek z nadziei (Walesa: Man of Hope), dir. Andrzej Wajda, Ewa Brodzka
Wolf Creek 2, dir. Greg McLean
Yurusarezaru mono (Unforgiven), dir. Lee Sang-Il

Horizons Strand
Algunas Chicas, dir. Santiago Palavecino
Bauyr (Little Brother), dir. Serik Aprymov
Eastern Boys, dir. Robin Campillo
Jigoku de naze warui (Why Don’t you Play in Hell?), dir. Sion Sono
Mahi Va Gorbeh (Fish and Cat), dir. Shahram Mokri
Je m’appelle Hmmm, dir. Agnes B.
Medeas, dir. Andrea Pallaoro
Il terzo tempo, dir. Enrico Maria Artale
Palo Alto, dir. Gia Coppola
Piccola Patria, dir. Alessandro Rossetto
La prima neve, dir. Andrea Segre
Ruin, dir. Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Michael Cody
The Sacrament, dir. Ti West
Still Life, dir. Uberto Pasolini
Vi ar bast! (We are the Best!), dir. Lukas Moodysson
La vida despues, dir. David Pablos
Wolfskinder (Wolfschildren), dir. Rick Ostermann

The 70th Venice Film Festival takes place from 28 August to 7 September, 2013. For more of our Venice 2013 coverage, simply follow this link. 

John Bleasdale