Kristen Stewart in the movie Spencer
The 78th Venice International Film Festival kicks off today. It will open with a new film by Pedro Almodovar “Parallel Mothers”. This year's jury is chaired by Korean director Bong Joon-ho, who needs little introduction after the resounding success of 2019's Parasite. We studied the festival program and selected premieres from it, which definitely cannot be missed.
Spencer: The Secret of Princess Diana (Spencer)
Director: Pablo Larrain
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall
Of course, among the most important events of the festival is the premiere of the biopic “Spencer”, in which Kristen Stewart plays the role of Princess Diana. Pablo Larrain's film participates in the main competition. The director did not show in his tape those events that were already covered in the press – Diana's divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, her tragic death in 1997 …
Kristen Stewart in the movie Spencer
Instead, Larrain focuses on just three days – but those that may have been a watershed for the princess. It's a Christmas weekend at the end of 1991, which the royal family spends, following a long tradition, at Sandringham, the country estate of Elizabeth II. The marriage of Diana and Charles is literally crumbling before our eyes, around with might and main gossip about discord and betrayal on both sides. The scandal should not darken the Christmas of the titled family, but it is on these days that the princess makes the fateful decision that it cannot continue this way: a divorce is inevitable. As the director says, although the film shows a tiny segment of Diana's life, this moment just allows the audience to understand what she really was.
“Captain Volkonogov escaped”
Directors: Natasha Merkulova, Alexey Chupov
Cast: Yura Borisov, Timofey Tribuntsev, Alexander Yatsenko, Vladimir Epifantsev, Nikita Kukushkin, Anastasia Ukolova, Victoria Tolstoganova
Natasha Merkulova and Alexei Chupov, who are responsible for the chilling Call Center series, which successfully showed itself in Venice, The Man Who Surprised Everyone, and several other projects under discussion (including the upcoming Netflix premiere of Anna K), will present at festival thriller “Captain Volkonogov escaped”. The tape is declared in the program of the main competition.
The poster of the film “Captain Volkonogov fled”
The main role is played by the now super-demanded Yura Borisov. His hero serves in law enforcement, nothing bodes well, but at one point everything changes: the captain is accused of a crime. Volkonogov goes on the run, former colleagues begin to hunt for him, and then a certain envoy from the other world appears to the captain. As he assures, the hero is already awaiting in hell, but you can still fix something and earn a place in heaven. To do this, the captain will have to atone for sins and achieve the forgiveness of at least one person. It turns out to be even more difficult to do than he could imagine.
Yura Borisov in the film “Captain Volkonogov fled”
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Timothy Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin
Out of competition, the Venice Festival will show Denis Villeneuve's long-awaited fantastic film “Dune”, where Timothy Chalamet, Zendaya and many other stars starred. This project is called the film event of the season in the press, and it is recommended to watch it exclusively on the big screen, since the spectacle is expected to be truly impressive. It’s easy to believe, because Canadian Denis Villeneuve, author of Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, is a master of beautiful pictures and impressive scope. The scale of everything that happens on the screen is given by the music of Hans Zimmer.
Timothy Chalamet in the movie Dune
As for the plot of “Dune”, it is based on the novel of the same name in 1965 by Frank Herbert. The work in Hollywood has a reputation for being extremely difficult to adapt: once a film based on it was taken by David Lynch, but his version was criticized to smithereens, and at the box office it was an enchanting failure.
In Villeneuve's Dune everything is more or less close to the literary original. We are talking about events taking place in the future on the planet Arrakis. There are continuous dangers here: the scorching sun, terrible monsters, fierce intergalactic conflicts for the possession of a valuable resource that can prolong life. In all this chaos, a young man named Paul has to survive – he is played by Timothy Chalamet, and this journey will definitely not be calm.
Zendaya in the movie Dune
“The last duel”
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck
Medieval France, harsh manners: in order to protect the honor of a beloved woman, sometimes you have to shed blood – your own or your opponent's. Ridley Scott, seemingly bored of Gladiator, returns to the historical drama genre and presents a film based on real events, with not immediately recognizable Matt Damon, Killing Eve star Jodie Comer, and Adam Driver and Ben Affleck painted in blond.
Ben Affleck in The Last Duel
Damon's hero is a knight who returned from the war and learned that a neighbor had raped his wife. Nobody believes the girl, the alleged rapist denies everything, there are no witnesses. The King of France commands that the outcome of the conflict must be decided in a duel – it will become the last resolved duel in the country.
We add that Damon and Affleck, who once earned an Oscar for “Good Will Hunting”, again write scripts together: “The last duel” – their handiwork. The tape will be shown in Venice outside the competition program.
Matt Damon in The Last Duel
“Parallel mothers” (Madres paralelas)
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Cast: Penelope Cruz, Rossi De Palma, Aytana Sanchez-Gijon
Opening film participating in the main competition. In Almodovar, as always, uneasy women's fates intersect and intertwine in the most intricate way, Spanish passions are heating up, and on the screen, as usual, Pedro's favorites – Penelope Cruz and Rossi De Palma – shine – where without them.
The main characters of the film are two women who meet in the hospital: they became mothers on the same day. Both are confused in life, both are burdened by loneliness and did not plan a pregnancy. From this meeting, the viewer will watch how their stories develop in parallel and how they themselves gradually change.
Milena Smith and Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers
“Official Competition” (Competencia Oficial)
Directors: Mariano Cohn, Gaston Duprat
Cast: Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Irena Escolar, Oscar Martinez, Pilar Castro
The comedy drama Official Competition with Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas in the lead roles will also compete for the main prize of the Venice Festival: the actors, by the way, last appeared on the screen together just with Pedro Almodovar, in the 2019 film Pain and Glory.
Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Oscar Martinez in The Official Competition
And again Spanish-Argentinean passions are raging: a billionaire with a dubious reputation is investing in the shooting of the film – so much so that it will go down in the history of cinema, no less. He invites the popular, but overly eccentric filmmaker Lola (Penelope Cruz) to lead the process. He invites two conflicting movie stars (Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martinez) for the main roles. But it seems that when too many bright and self-centered personalities gather on one set, the prospect of making a hit movie becomes more and more illusory.
Penelope Cruz in The Official Competition
“Hand of God” (È stata la mano di Dio)
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Filippo Scotti, Tony Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo
The competition program includes the tape of the creator of “Great Beauty” and “Young Pope” Paolo Sorrentino, which the general public will be able to see in December on Netflix. The picture is called the most personal of the director's works, because it is inspired by his youth, spent in Naples in the 80s, and is partially autobiographical.
Filippo Scotti in the movie “The Hand of God”
The picture, as always in Sorrentino, is perfect: the atmosphere of Italy at that time has been recreated to the smallest detail. The focus is on the passion of the protagonist, a young man named Fabietto, for football and cinema. A wide variety of events take place around it – from almost historical (Diego Maradona himself goes to Naples to play) to tragic (the shooting of the film in the city will turn into unexpected consequences).
Scenes from a Marriage
Director: Hagai Levy
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain
The program of out-of-competition screenings includes a mini-series “Scenes from a Married Life” with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Israeli director Hagai Levi is aiming at sacred things – film classics, in particular – and removes a remake of the film of the same name by Ingmar Bergman, released in the early 70s. Levy himself says that the Bergman picture he viewed in his youth then became for him a revelation bordering on shock: with what honesty and how succinctly such voluminous topics as marriage, love, passion, monogamy, and the bitterness of divorce were revealed.
Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in the series “Scenes from Marriage”
Half a century later, Hagai Levy himself raises all the same questions, transferring the heroes to modern America. The director reflects on the fact that today, in an even more narcissistic, insatiable, fixated on success and self-realization society, a person still needs a person, and parting still cuts to the living. And yet this is not a story of a breakup, but a love story: the heroes go through a crisis, get confused in feelings, lose their passion and flare up again, trying to figure out how to return everything that is about to finally crumble.
For Jessica Chastain, appearing in a serial project is a rarity. By the way, an interesting detail: Michelle Williams was initially approved for the role, but in the end she refused because of her employment.
“Cold calculation” (The Card Counter)
Director: Paul Schroeder
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Willem Dafoe, Tye Sheridan
After several years of silence, the screenwriter of the cult Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, Paul Schroeder, presented the film Cold Calculation, which was included in the competition program of the Venice Film Festival. Producers include Martin Scorsese, starring Oscar Isaac. We see him in several films at once, which will be shown at this year's festival, but here, perhaps, his talent is most fully revealed to convey a whole gamut of emotions with just one glance.
Oscar Isaac in the movie Cold Calculation
During his time behind bars, Isaac's hero has developed the skill of playing poker and now, thanks to his extraordinary abilities, he can start a new life, easily defeating opponents in the light of the shining lights of Vegas. However, the past does not let go, and the temptation to avenge old grievances is so great that a new game begins – also gambling, but much more dangerous than the card game.
Last Night in Soho
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin Mackenzie, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg
Another time travel fantasy – this time filmed in the genre of a horror thriller with a retro touch. The film “Last Night in Soho” will be shown in Venice out of competition.
Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in Last Night in Soho
A student of fashion design is bored in the bustling modern London, until somehow mysteriously transported to the 60s of the last century. There, advertising posters of films with the young Sean Connery are hung on the streets of the British capital, and in the clubs on Carnaby Street the nightlife of “swinging London” is in full swing. The heroine sees all this through the eyes of a completely different person – a beauty singer (played by Anya Taylor-Joy). Very soon, the line between real life and a mysterious parallel reality will be erased, fantasies will rather turn into nightmares, and it will become clear that behind all this there is clearly some terrible secret from the past.
Anya Taylor-Joy in Last Night in Soho
The Power of the Dog
Director: Jane Campion
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Thomasin Mackenzie
The winner of many awards for the film “Piano” in 1992, Jane Campion has not made a feature film for more than ten years. The premiere of The Power of the Dog, which is included in the main competition program in Venice, can be considered a great return.
Benedict Cumberbatch in Reign of the Dog
Kirsten Dunst in the movie Reign of the Dog
The film is set in the 1920s. Two brothers, the owners of the largest ranch in these parts, run their household in the vast expanses of Montana. Despite the relationship, they are completely different people with diametrically opposite characters. One of the brothers secretly marries, the second is immensely angry at this fact, forcing him to weave a cunning intrigue and unleash a real family war.
Benedict Cumberbatch in the film Campion played the same intriguing brother, the role of the second brother went to Jesse Plemons, and his wife is played by Kirsten Dunst.
In December, Power of the Dog is expected to premiere on Netflix.
Director: Valentin Vasyanovich
Cast: Roman Lutsky, Nika Myslitska, Nadya Levchenko
This year, at the Venice festival, three films of Ukrainian filmmakers are presented at once. One of the films participates in the main program: this is the drama “Reflection” by Valentin Vasyanovich. Its main character is a Ukrainian military doctor who was captured during the events in the Donbass and is trying to return to normal life after his release, restore relations with his family, find a goal and finally forget about everything he has experienced.
Shot from the film “Reflection”
As the director says, this is a film about a traumatic experience, about an understanding of death, about a soul and a body. Vasyanovich thought about these topics especially deeply when he began to discuss the issues of life and death with his 10-year-old daughter, who once saw a picture that struck her – how a dove flies into a window glass at high speed, breaks and dies. The subsequent conversations with the child led the director to the idea of making a film about the modern world – beautiful and at the same time discouragingly cruel.
Director: Oleg Sentsov
Cast: Sergei Filimonov, Irina Mak
Oleg Sentsov's film “Rhino” will be presented at the festival as part of the “Horizons” section. The events related to the director himself were covered in detail in the press: in the spring of 2014, Sentsov was detained by Russian law enforcement agencies in Crimea on suspicion of terrorism. The court sentenced the director to 20 years in a maximum security colony, but he spent five years behind bars: in 2019, he was released as part of an exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine.
Shot from the film “Rhino”
The idea to make a film about the 90s came to the cinematographer even before the arrest, but he did not have time to get down to work. According to Sentsov, during his imprisonment he wrote several new scripts, but decided to return to his idea and made the film “Rhino”.
The title of the tape contains the nickname of the protagonist, the film tells about the criminal world of that era, and, according to the director himself, there are practically no positive characters in it. It's a pretty tough sight – just like a 90s bandit movie could be. It is interesting that in “Rhino” mostly non-professional actors were filmed.
“Mom, I'm home”
Director: Vladimir Bitokov
Cast: Yura Borisov, Ksenia Rappoport, Alexander Gorchilin
The Russian film “Mom, I'm Home” will be presented as part of the new “Horizons Extra” program, dedicated to the latest trends in world cinema.
Poster of the film “Mom, I'm at home”
Here, too, we are talking about war and the human tragedies associated with it. Ksenia Rappoport plays Tonya, who lives in Nalchik, works as a bus driver and waits every day for the return of her son, who has left under a contract to fight in Syria. Having received the news that her son has died, the woman refuses to believe it. The circumstances of the tragedy seem suspicious to her, and Tonya decides at all costs to figure out what happened. And then a soldier (Yura Borisov) appears in her life, who appears to be her son.
After the Venice Film Festival, the film “Mom, I'm Home” will be shown at the “Kinotavr” in Sochi.
Ksenia Rappoport and Yura Borisov in the film “Mom, I'm Home”
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon
Director: Ana Lili Amirpur
Cast: Kate Hudson, Cho Jong-so, Ed Skrein
There is very little information about the plot of the film “Mona Lisa and the Bloody Moon” presented in the main competition. Currently known facts: this is a fantasy, the main character is a girl with unique abilities, escaping from a psychiatric clinic. All this is accompanied by a soundtrack that is non-standard for the fantasy genre, including heavy metal and Italian techno.
The poster of the film “Mona Lisa and the Bloody Moon”
Iranian-born filmmaker Ana Lili Amirpour comments on her work, saying that since childhood she felt like an outcast in America. It was in fantasy films that she found characters as a child that gave her strength and confidence. And now its heroes are mostly outsiders who find themselves face to face with the system.
A fabulous adventure that explains what personal freedom is in a chaotic society, where it is generally difficult to feel free,
– says Ana Lily about her new film.
A scene from the movie “Mona Lisa and the Bloody Moon”
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Anthony Michael Hall
The program of out-of-competition screenings included the horror film “Halloween Kills” – and this is the 12th part of the famous horror franchise, which started back in 1978. The first film debuted Jamie Lee Curtis, at that time 20 years old, thanks to “Halloween” and several of its sequels, earned the title of Hollywood “scream queen.”
Halloween Kills Movie Poster
Jamie Lee Curtis in the movie Halloween Kills
A scene from the movie “Halloween Kills”
In the new film, which will be presented in Venice, Curtis returns to his heroine, Laurie Strode, who is now confronting the creepy maniac Michael Myers, along with her daughter and granddaughter. The killer once again managed to stay alive: he literally went through the fire, safe and sound, and even more cruel – again keeps the whole city in fear. Whether it will be possible to neutralize the maniac is an open question: there is at least one more part of the franchise called “Halloween Ends” ahead.
Jamie Lee Curtis, by the way, will be presented with an award for his contribution to world cinema during the Venice Festival.
The Lost Daughter
Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Cast: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Paul Mescal, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris, Alba Rohrwacher
The main competition of the festival is Maggie Gyllenhaal's debut full-length directorial work. The drama is based on the novel of the same name by the Italian writer Helena Ferrante.
Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson in The Lost Daughter
Olivia Colman in the movie Lost Daughter
Olivia Colman's heroine is a college professor who has come to rest on the Greek coast. The woman hopes for a calm and secluded vacation, but there will be no peace: a noisy New York family is resting in the neighborhood, which Leda is watching, along the way plunging into her own memories of early motherhood – often heavy and awakening a feeling of guilt that has fallen asleep for the time being.
Olivia Colman and Paul Mescal in The Lost Daughter
Along with Coleman, Dakota Johnson, playing a young mother, Paul Mescal from “Normal People” and others starred in the film.
Director: Michel Franco
Cast: Tim Roth, Charlotte Gainsbourg
As part of the main program, the premiere of the drama “Sunset” by Mexican Michel Franco will take place in Venice. Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg play a British couple whose vacation with their children in a Mexican resort is not going according to plan. Moreover, not only vacation is now under threat, but also the very relationships within the family, which, as it turns out, were not particularly strong before.
“Sunset” movie poster
The rest of the plot details are still kept secret. The director only hints: he says that he created his picture under the impression of how the beautiful Acapulco, where he spent his holidays as a child, before his eyes “turns into the epicenter of violence, becoming more and more alien and unfamiliar.”
Tim Roth in the movie Sunset