(AFP) – A biopic on Diana with Kristen Stewart, a Russian film on torture and redemption, or the new Almodovar? The Venice Film Festival awards its prestigious Golden Lion on Saturday evening, after a very open competition to the end.
Last year, Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland”, a melancholy journey to America’s losers, won the day, before receiving the Oscar for best film a few months later.
Who will succeed the Chinese-American director this year? In total, 21 films were viewed by the jury of South Korean Bong Joon-Ho, winner of the Palme d’Or 2019 in Cannes with “Parasite”.
At his side, to decide between these films from the United States, France, Italy and the Philippines, two men and four women, including Chloé Zhao and the Franco-Belgian actress Virginie Efira.
The selection is of high level: Pedro Almodovar who finds his muse Penelope Cruz in “Parallel Mothers”, the director Paul Schrader, brilliant screenwriter of Scorsese in “Taxi Driver”, which puts in scene a veteran mad of poker in “The Card Counter “, French-style cinema, from Balzac (” Les Illusions perdues “) to social drama with Vincent Lindon (” Another world “) …
Among the films that have been favored by international critics compiled by the Festival daily, “La part du chien”, by Jane Campion, is one of those that stand out.
Palme d’or in 1993 for “The Piano Lesson”, the director tackles the question of masculinity in this stifling camera in a world of cowboys, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst.
In a completely different genre, a couple of Russian filmmakers, Natalia Merkulova and Alexeï Tchoupov, impressed with their visual and narrative mastery in “Captain Volkonogov escaped”, parable on torture and redemption, in Saint Petersburg of the Stalinist era.
– Kristen Stewart and Diana –
As for the interpretation prizes, the American Kristen Stewart has convinced many festival-goers with her performance as Lady Diana in “Spencer”, by Pablo Larrain, a dive into the intimacy of this woman refusing to give up her freedom in the corseted world of Windsor.
The winners will also be a new opportunity to measure the power of streaming platforms that have become major players in the 7th art, and which have seen their domination further reinforced by the pandemic.
Unlike Cannes, the most prestigious competition but which Netflix films are deprived of due to the lack of theatrical release in France, these platform feature films are welcome in Venice.
Netflix had already marked the spirits in 2018 by winning the Golden Lion for “Roma” by Alfonso Cuaron, which was then awarded at the Golden Globes and the Oscars.
This year, in addition to the film by Jane Campion, the platform also produced Paolo Sorrentino’s new film, the very personal “The Hand of God”, and acquired the rights to “The Lost Daughter”, which marks the transition to the directed by actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, other serious candidates for the Golden Lion.
“Spencer” will go to the Amazon Prime platform.
Whatever the prize list, the Mostra will in any case have managed to bounce back after a very poor 2020 vintage, in the midst of a pandemic.
The festival was organized only two months after that of Cannes, which proved its ability to stay connected to the avant-garde by crowning “Titane”, a genre film.
Venice, which in recent years has become a launching pad for the Oscars, is also a favorite meeting point for American stars, who have flocked to the red carpet at the Lido.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, friends since childhood, climbed the steps on Friday for “The Last Duel”, by Ridley Scott, a few days after the stars of “Dune”: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac or Javier Bardem .