Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, the Marilyn Monroe drama Blonde, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths and Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All, with Timothée Chalamet, will all have their world premieres in competition at the Venice International Film Festival this fall.
Festival director Alberto Barbera unveiled the starry lineup Tuesday morning, which includes the out-of-competition debut of Olivia Wilde’s mid-century mindbender Don’t Worry Darling with Harry Styles and Florence Pugh. The impressive, international slate will draw A-listers and awards hopefuls alike to the Lido for the 79th edition of the oldest film festival in the world.
As in years past, Netflix will make a big splash with four major titles playing in the main competition. They are Andrew Dominik’s Blonde, starring Ana de Armas and based on Joyce Carol Oates’ book about the inner life of Hollywood icon Monroe; Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s White Noise, with Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, which will open the festival on Aug. 31; The new Iñárritu film about a Mexican journalist and a documentary filmmaker; and Romain Gavras’ Athena, about three siblings in chaos after the death of their youngest brother.
The Lido has become a prime spot for Netflix to launch its awards hopefuls. Last year, the streamer debuted Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which would ultimately win her the best director Oscar.
Many films that have premiered at Venice in the last decade have gone on to win the best director Oscar, including Chloé Zhao with Nomadland, Alfonso Cuarón with Roma and Gravity, Guillermo del Toro with The Shape of Water, Damien Chazelle with La La Land and Iñarritu with Birdman.
There are 23 films total playing in competition, including Aronofosky’s The Whale, from A24, starring Brendan Fraser as a morbidly obese man trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter, played by Stranger Things' Sadie Sink. Aronofsky also brought Black Swan to the Lido in 2010. Guadagnino's Bones and All, from MGM and Amazon, about young love, a road trip and trying to outrun your past, reteams the director with his Call Me By Your Name star and Venice-regular Chalamet.
It’s not the only cinematic reunion in the bunch. There is also Joanna Hogg’s The Eternal Daughter starring Tilda Swinton, and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri follow-up The Banshees Of Inisherin, from Searchlight, with Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell playing lifelong friends on a remote island.
Florian Zeller’s The Son, starring Vanessa Kirby, Laura Dern and Hugh Jackman is also among the competition titles. Adapted from his own play, The Son, from Sony, is one part of a trilogy that includes his Oscar-winner The Father. Todd Field also has TÁR, starring Cate Blanchett as a renowned composer and first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra. Focus Features is releasing the drama in theaters on Oct. 7.
Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi will premiere his new film No Bears in competition. Panahi last week was ordered to serve out a six-year prison sentence as the government seeks to silence criticism amid growing economic turmoil and political pressure. Four Iranian films are playing across all the sections this year, including Vahid Jalilvand’s Beyond the Wall.
Barbera said Panahi and the other incarcerated Iranian filmmakers were, “Guilty only of having exercised their right to freedom of expression.”
Documentary auteur Frederick Wiseman has the narrative film A Couple. And Laura Poitras will premiere her documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed in competition as well.
This year’s main competition jury is being led by Julianne Moore and includes French director Audrey Diwan, whose film Happening won the Golden Lion last year, author Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go) and Iranian actor Leila Hatami (A Separation).
Aside from Warner Bros.' Don’t Worry Darling, other films debuting out of competition include Walter Hill’s Dead For a Dollar, with Willem Dafoe and Christoph Waltz; Bill Pohlad Dreamin’ Wild, with Casey Affleck and Walton Goggins playing musical duo Donnie and Joe Emerson; Paul Schrader’s Master Gardener with Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver; and Ti West’s Pearl with Mia Goth. Hoop Dreams director Steve James is also coming to the Lido for the first time with his new documentary A Compassionate Spy and Oliver Stone will be there with Nuclear.
Venice, which runs from Aug. 31 through Sept. 10, is just the first of many fall film festivals that will help narrow the playing field for the awards season to come. The Toronto International Film Festival starts soon after on Sept. 8, followed by the Telluride Film Festival on Sept. 15 and the New York Film Festival on Sept. 30.