Basta the Covid, the Mostra finds its stars and its luster

(AFP) – The Venice Film Festival regains its luster from Wednesday, after a half-hearted 2020 edition due to the pandemic, with this clever mix of big American productions, auteur cinema and glamor that made a staple for the Oscars.

Last year, the oldest of the film festivals had made the bet to maintain itself at all costs despite the Covid, and had awarded its Golden Lion to one of the very few American films selected, “Nomadland”. But neither the director, Chloé Zhao, nor the main actress, Frances McDormand, had been able to make the trip.

Thanks to vaccines, the atmosphere promises to be lighter this year, even if strict health measures continue to apply, and the health pass is mandatory.

By the closing ceremony on September 11, many stars could walk the red carpet, from Kristen Stewart as Lady Diana in “Spencer” by Pablo Larrain, to Benedict Cumberbatch, including Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas.

“The Americans have come out of their confinement and are ready to restart”, welcomed the director of the Mostra, Alberto Barbera, presenting this edition. And overall, “the quality of the films (submitted to the festival) was higher than usual, as if the pandemic had stimulated the creativity” of the filmmakers.

Films from 59 countries will be screened on the Lido, and the Lion d’Or race will open on Wednesday with “Madres Paralelas”, the latest film by Pedro Almodovar, a major figure in European cinema.

– Reinforced Netflix –

The jury, chaired by Bong Joon-Ho, director of “Parasite”, Palme d’Or 2019 and Oscar for best film the following year, notably brings together the Franco-Belgian actress Virginie Efira and Chloé Zhao.

He will have to decide between 21 films – of which only five signed by female directors, the Festival not reproducing the effort of parity started last year, where 8 of the 18 films in competition were directed by women. In question, the slowdown in production, linked to the pandemic, which would have more impacted the directors, pleaded Alberto Barbera.

Three French films are in the running: “Another World”, a social drama by Stéphane Brizé, “Lost Illusions”, where Xavier Giannoli adapts Balzac, and “L’Evénement”, an adaptation of a novel by Annie Ernaux on the theme of abortion by Audrey Diwan, a Franco-Lebanese for the first time in competition.

Latin American cinema will also be well represented with “Competencia Oficial” by Argentinian Gaston Duprat and “Sundown” by Mexican Michel Franco with an international cast: Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The streaming giant Netflix, always in search of respectability, claims a Golden Lion with two films, “The Hand of God” by Italian Paolo Sorrentino, and especially “The Power of the Dog” by Jane Campion, Palme d ‘Or in 1993 with “The piano lesson”.

Coming out of the pandemic much stronger against the big historic studios, the video-on-demand giant remains banned from Cannes competition as long as it refuses to release its films in theaters in France, but has on the other hand the door open in Venice.

Its presence is one of the cards used by the Mostra in the competition between the main international festivals.

Venice, which can boast of a long history which has enabled it in 78 editions to see legends such as Marlon Brando, Martin Scorsese or Robert de Niro pass, has become, under the direction of Alberto Barbera, one of the halls of the Oscars .

Todd Phillips’ “Joker” won two Oscars five months after being crowned Golden Lion in 2019, and “Nomadland” received the statuettes for Best Picture and Best Director in Hollywood after its triumph in Venice.

But the bar is high this year, after the return with fanfare in July of the largest and prestigious of these meetings, Cannes, which had to cancel its 2020 edition.

On the Croisette, big names have responded, from Wes Anderson to Sean Penn, and for the second time in its history, the Palme d’Or has gone to a woman, Julia Ducournau, crowned for “Titane”, a feverish film and radical which showed that Cannes had not lost contact with the avant-garde.