From Almodovar to Ridley Scott, world cinema returns to Venice

(AFP) – An emblematic duo of Spanish cinema, Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz, open the race for the Golden Lion, the prelude to a Venice Film Festival that mixes auteur cinema and big names in Hollywood, from Ridley Scott to Denis Villeneuve.

The Spanish director’s new film, “Madres Paralelas”, in which he finds his favorite actress, will open the oldest festival in the world on Wednesday evening.

At 71, the Spaniard, author of iconic films like “All About My Mother” or “Talk to Her” should not confuse his fans, with the story of the fate of two women who give birth on the same day.

The enfant terrible of the Spanish Movida has already fueled a first buzz, the social network Instagram having briefly censored the poster of the film, a nipple from which a drop of milk pearls, for violating its rules on nudity. Before turning back.

Twice distinguished at the Oscars but in search of a major prize in Venice, Almodovar faces 20 other films in competition.

They will have to seduce a jury chaired by the South Korean Bong Joon-Ho, Palme d’Or 2019 with “Parasite” and Oscar for best film the following year. The jury notably brings together the Franco-Belgian actress Virginie Efira and the American director of Chinese origin Chloé Zhao.

The latter, with “Nomadland”, triumphed at the Oscars a few months after winning the Golden Lion last year.

– Five directors –

A trajectory that can dream of the directors in competition, the most confirmed like the New Zealander Jane Campion (“La part du Chien”), Palme d’Or in 1993 with “The piano lesson”, like the newer ones, at the Like American actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, who makes her debut behind the camera adapting bestselling author Elena Ferrante (“The Lost Daughter”).

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 abortion by Audrey Diwan (“But you’re crazy”), for the first time in competition.

Latin American cinema will also be well represented with “Competencia Oficial” by Argentinian Gaston Duprat, which brings together Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, and “Sundown” by Mexican Michel Franco with an international cast, including Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Only five films are signed by female directors, the Festival not reproducing the effort for parity started last year, where 8 of the 18 films in competition were signed by women.

The winners must be announced on September 11, at the end of this second edition since the start of the pandemic. Last year, the festival was held in low key, before the arrival of vaccines against the coronavirus.

The grand prize winner, Chloé Zhao, and her lead actress, Frances McDormand, could not even make the trip.

– The “Dune” event –

Change of atmosphere in this fall, even if health measures continue to apply: the Mostra will mark the comeback of the big names in cinema on the Lido, with 59 countries represented, and Hollywood studios well present.

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, passing by 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.

The event will also be held out of competition, where “Dune” will be presented, a new version of the legendary space-opera that the Canadian Denis Villeneuve has tried out, with a procession of stars in the credits, from Timothée Chalamet to Oscar Isaac, passing through the reveal of the series “Euphoria”, Zendaya.

Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner”, “Gladiator”) will also star, with “The Last Duel”, which marks the reformation on screen and screenplay of the duo Matt Damon / Ben Affleck, a quarter of a century later ” Will Hunting “.