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Home Movie FestivalsVenice Film Festival Stefania Sandrelli & Ermanno Olmi + Political Pasolini Classic Restored: Venice Film Festival Highlights

Stefania Sandrelli & Ermanno Olmi + Political Pasolini Classic Restored: Venice Film Festival Highlights

Stefania Sandrelli Venice Film Festival
Veteran Stefania Sandrelli, who has a supporting role in A Perfect Day.
Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

According to Agence France-Presse, at least in first few days the 2008 Venice Film Festival, which ran Aug. 27–Sept. 6, “has produced no standouts … with reactions to the first crop among the 21 movies vying for the Golden Lion ranging from lukewarm to hostile.”

One example is Guillermo Arriaga’s The Burning Plain, which “disorients the viewer with flashbacks that cannot be identified as such until much later in the film, a device the reviewer in leading Italian daily Corriere della Sera branded as ‘gratuitous.’”

Not faring any better was Barbet Schroeder’s French erotic thriller Inju the Beast in the Shadow, which had  La Repubblica wondering, “How did such a film get into the competition for the Golden Lion?” while the Corriere della Sera lambasted Schroeder for “(badly) imitating Alfred Hitchcock” in a movie “without suspense, which ends up irritating the spectator, trapped in a cerebral and weak-willed farce.”

Venice Film Festival winners

Golden Lion: The Wrestler, dir.: Darren Aronofsky

Special Jury Prize: Teza by Haile Gerima

Best First Director: Aleksei German, Paper Soldier

Coppa Volpi for Best Actor: Silvio Orlando, Giovanna’s Father / Il papà di Giovanna.

Coppa Volpi for Best Actress: Dominique Blanc, L’Autre

Best New Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, The Burning Plain

Best Screenplay: Haile Gerima, Teza

Best Cinematography: Paper Soldier

Lion of the Future for Best First Film: Pranzo di ferragosto, dir.: Gianni de Gregorio

Special Silver Lion: Werner Schroeter.

Career Golden Lion: Ermanno Olmi.


International Competition: Inland / Gabbla, dir.: Tariq Teguia.

Horizons: Goodbye Solo, dir.: Ramin Bahrani (U.S.).

International Competition Jury:

Wim Wenders (Germany) President
Yurij Nikolaevic Arabov (Russian Federation)
Valeria Golino (Italy)
Douglas Gordon (UK)
John Landis (USA)
Lucrecia Martel (Argentina)
Johnnie To (China, Hong Kong)

Additionally, Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman, Amos Poe (US), and Tunisian filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche presided over the juries of, respectively, the Horizons, Short Films, and First Feature competitions.

Photos: © Fondazione La Biennale – Foto Asac

Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki, whose Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is up for a Golden Lion. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, which has earned nearly US$100 million since opening in Japan.

Valerio Mastandrea Ferzan Ozpetek
Actor Valerio Mastandrea, director Ferzan Ozpetek, of A Perfect Day, which is up for a Golden Lion.

Isabella Ferrari
Isabella Ferrari, star of Ferzan Ozpetek’s A Perfect Day

Photos: © Fondazione La Biennale – Foto Asac

Fabrice Du Welz, Emmanuelle Beart
Director Fabrice Du Welz, actress Emmanuelle Béart of Vinyan, which was screened out of competition

Tariq Tapa
Tariq Tapa (right), director of Zero Bridge, screened in the Horizons sidebar

Claire Denis
Claire Denis, whose 35 rhums was screened out of competition

Mario Monicelli
Mario Monicelli, 93, whose short Vicino al Colosseo c’è Monti was screened at the festival. Monicelli’s credits include The Great War, The Passionate Thief, and L’Armata Brancaleone

Photos: © Fondazione La Biennale – Foto Asac

Jia Zhang-Ke
Jia Zhang-Ke, director of Cry Me a River

Jose Maria Yazpik
José María Yazpik, one of the stars of The Burning Plain

Gabriel Garko
Gabriel GarkoMarisa Paredes, Manoel de Oliveira
Marisa Paredes, centenarian director Manoel de Oliveira

If you thought that international film festivals were a great place to make new discoveries and to give a chance to up-and-coming filmmakers, you might want to think again. Often criticized for having gone Hollywood, the Venice Film Festival, which opened this year with Joel and Ethan Coens spy caper Burn After Reading, is now being criticized for having gone too esoteric. The snippet below is from The Independent:

“Highlights include the directorial debut of the Oscar-nominated screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, The Burning Plain, which stars Colin Farrell and Charlize Theron; and Darren Aronofskys The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke.

“But those who stay the full Venice course will be depending heavily on [festival director Marco] Muellers judgement, for he has assembled a programme of films from all over the world by people that very few have ever heard of. Take Encarnação Do Demônio, the third part in the trash-horror trilogy by the Brazilian director José Mojica Marins, or Birdwatchers [above], set among tribal people in the Amazon, by the Italian director Marco Bechis.

“The latter film gives an idea of what Mueller is up to. Bechiss film is a highly anticipated picture, according to Variety, which Mueller booked early. It tells of the extinction of an Amazonian tribe by farmers land grabs; the Brazilian-born director has worked on it for years, and most of the actors are tribespeople.”

Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Competition Line-Up

Darren Aronofsky The Wrestler – USA.

Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Guillermo Arriaga The Burning Plain – USA.

Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, Joaquim de Almeida

Pupi Avati Il papà di Giovanna – Italy.

Silvio Orlando, Alba Rohrwacher, Francesca Neri, Ezio Greggio, Serena Grandi

Marco Bechis BirdWatchers – Italy / Brazil.

Claudio Santamaria, Alicélia Batista Cabreira, Chiara Caselli, Abrisio Da Silva Pedro

Patrick Mario Bernard, Pierre Trividic L’Autre – France.

Dominique Blanc, Cyril Gueï, Peter Bonke, Christèle Tual

Kathryn Bigelow Hurt Locker – USA.

Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce, David Morse, Jeremy Renner

Pappi Corsicato Il seme della discordia – Italy.

Caterina Murino, Alessandro Gassman, Martina Stella, Michele Venitucci, Isabella Ferrari

Jonathan Demme Rachel Getting Married – USA.

Anne Hathaway, Debra Winger, Rosemarie Dewitt, Bill Irwin, Tunde Adebimpe

Haile Gerima Teza – Ethiopia / Germany / France.

Aron Arefe, Abiye Tedla, Takelech Beyene

Aleksey German Jr. Bumažnyj soldat (Paper Soldier) – Russia.

Chulpan Khamatova, Merab Ninidze, Anastasya Shevelyova

Semih Kaplanoglu Süt – Turkey / France / Germany.

Melih Selcuk, Basak Koklukaya

Takeshi Kitano Akires to kame (Achilles and the Tortoise) – Japan.

Beat Takeshi, Kanako Higuchi, Yurei Yanagi, Kumiko Aso

Hayao Miyazaki Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on Cliff by the Sea) – Japan.

Amir Naderi Vegas: Based on a True Story – USA.

Mark Greenfield, Nancy La Scala, Zach Thomas

Mamoru Oshii The Sky Crawlers – Japan.

Ferzan Özpetek Un giorno perfetto – Italy.

Isabella Ferrari, Valerio Mastandrea, Valerio Binasco, Nicole Grimaudo, Stefania Sandrelli

Christian Petzold Jerichow – Germany.

Nina Hoss, Benno Fürmann, Hilmi Sözer

Barbet Schroeder Inju, la Bête dans l’ombre – France.

Magimel Benoît, Minamoto Lika, Shun Sugata, Maurice Bénichou, Ryo Ishibashi

Werner Schroeter Nuit de chien – France / Germany / Portugal.

Pascal Greggory, Bruno Todeschini, Amira Casar, Jean-François Stevenin

Tariq Teguia Gabbla (Inland) – Algeria / France.

Kader Affak, Ines Rose Djakou, Ahmed Benaïssa, Fethi Ghares, Kouider Medjahed, Djalila Kadi-Hanifi

YU Lik-wai Dangkou (Plastic City) – Brazil / China / Hong Kong / Japan.

Joe Odagiri, Anthony Wong, Huang Yi, Jeff Chen

Photos: © Fondazione La Biennale – Foto Asac

Alice Braga
Alice Braga

Paolo Baratta Ermanno Olmi - Venice 2008
Venice Biennale President Paolo Baratta, veteran director and Venice 2008’s Lifetime Achievement recipient Ermanno Olmi

Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami, whose Shirin was screened out of competition

Kseniya Rappaport
Kseniya Rappoport

Photos: © Fondazione La Biennale – Foto Asac

Photos: © Fondazione La Biennale – Foto Asac

Brad Pitt George Clooney Frances McDormand Joel and Ethan Coen Tilda SwintonGeorge Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Joel and Ethan Coen: ‘Burn After Reading’ photocall at Venice Film Festival.

Brad Pitt & George Clooney ‘Burn After Reading’ Premiere

At the Burn After Reading premiere, which opened the 2008 edition of the Venice Film Festival on Aug. 27, the film’s contingent posed for the cameras while on the Red Carpet.

In the image above are, from left to right, Ethan Coen, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, Joel Coen, Tilda Swinton, and George Clooney.

‘Burn After Reading’

The spy caper Burn After Reading revolves around two gym employees (Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand) who accidentally get a hold of a disc containing the memoirs of a former CIA analyst (John Malkovich). They see the disc as a money-making tool, but things inevitably get out of control.

Also in the Burn After Reading cast:

John Malkovich. Richard Jenkins. David Huddleston. Elizabeth Marvel. David Rasche. Kevin Sussman. Michael Countryman.

Burn After Reading opens in the U.S. on Sept. 12, ’08.

See below a trio of images of the Burn After Reading Venice premiere and of the film itself.

George Clooney Brad Pitt together VeniceGeorge Clooney and Brad Pitt together signing autographs: ‘Burn After Reading’ Venice Film Festival photocall.

‘Pa-ra-da’ movie: Biopic about real-life street clown and Romanian migrant

Marco Pontecorvo’s Pa-ra-da was screened in the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons sidebar. The film tells the story of real-life street clown Miloud Oukili, who arrived in Romania in 1992 – three years after Nicolae Ceausescu’s fall. Once there, he taught circus skills to a group of street children.

Pa-ra-da was written by Marco Pontecorvo and Roberto Tiraboschi. In the cast: Jalil Lespert (as Miloud), Evita Ciri, and Daniele Formica.

Marco Pontecorvo’s father, Gillo Pontecorvo, won the 1966 Golden Lion for the political docudrama The Battle of Algiers, which also earned him a Best Director Academy Award nomination in early 1969.

In The Independent, Peter Popham wrote about Pa-ra-da:

“In 1966, the year he was born, Marco Pontecorvo’s father Gillo won the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion with one of the greatest postwar Italian films, The Battle of Algiers. Forty-two years on, the soft-spoken cinematographer stood with a look of stunned bemusement on his face as the Venice audience gave him a standing ovation and 12 minutes of applause for his first film as director.

“He wasn’t to know it when he conceived the project seven years ago, but Pa-ra-da, which opens in Italian cinemas in September, is cruelly relevant to Italy’s most pressing national debate. For more than a year the country has been obsessed with what to do about the surge of impoverished immigrants from Romania.”

Below are a couple more Pa-ra-da images.

Jalil Lespert Marco Pontecorvo Romanian immigrant Pa-ra-da setMarco Pontecorvo and Jalil Lespert on the ‘Pa-ra-da’ set: Romanian immigrant and street clown.
Jalil Lespert Pa-ra-daJalil Lespert in ‘Pa-ra-da.’

More from the Venice Film Festival: Transsexuals in Iran, Pier Paolo Pasolini classic

Via the International Herald Tribune, a brief commentary about an unusual Iranian entry – Khastegi, about the plight of transsexuals in that Muslim theocracy:

“Organizers of the Venice Film Festival waited to announce the Iranian film Khastegi, or Tedium, by first-time Iranian director Bahman Motamedian until the last minute to avoid alerting authorities to its sensitive subject: transsexuals in modern-day Iran. …

“’We know that throughout the world this problems [sic] exists,’ Motamedian said. ‘The idea was to raise awareness among families especially, because this is the first layer of barrier, and to help people to realize they are not alone and be able to face the problem.’”

In The Guardian, Andrew Pulver discusses Pier Paolo Pasolini’s no longer compromised – and seemingly uncompromising – political classic La Rabbia:

“Film-wise, the lack of spectacular programming in this year’s festival really hit home yesterday. I opted (mistakenly I now think) for the new Abbas Kiarostami over the new Takeshi Kitano. …

“Much more interesting, but equally unlikely to make it to a cinema near you any time soon (unless one of our film festivals has a brainstorm) was a reconstruction of the original version of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s early 1960s essay-doco La Rabbia (‘The Anger’), which was severely mauled about by its producers before release. It was conceived as a political version of a ‘mondo’ film: Pasolini took already-existing newsreel footage, edited it together and wrote his own commentary. Fearing, some say, a right-wing backlash, producer Gastone Ferranti took a chunk out of Pasolini’s film and invited a populist, conservative journalist called Giovanni Guareschi to make the counter-argument. But nothing succeeds like a legend: Guareschi’s contribution is now banished, with Bertolucci drawing on Pasolini’s original plan to restore the newsreel sections junked in the first place. Of course, it’s all supposition; but we can safely say there’s no way any major director would be willing or able to make such an unashamedly poetical, deeply analytical statement today.”

Joel and Ethan Coen, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney photos: Fondazione La Biennale – Foto Asac.

Images of Brad Pitt and George Clooney in Burn After Reading: Venice Film Festival.

Images of Jail Lespert and Mario Pontecorvo in Pa-ra-da: Venice Film Festival.

Venice Film Festival website.

Fabrice Du Welz’s Vinyan, which was screened out of competition at the 2008 Venice Film Festival, stirred some controversy because the psychological thriller deals with the aftermath of the 2005 tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people. Starring Emmanuelle Béart and Rufus Sewell, Vinyan follows an European couple who travel to Southeast Asia in search of their young son, supposedly one of the tsunami’s victims. The mother, however, believes the boy still lives but has been kidnapped. Once there, instead of kidnappers the couple find supernatural goings-on.

Cinefantastique has given Vinyan two rave reviews. (In French.)

Screenplay by Du Welz, Oliver Blackburn, and David Greig. Also in the cast: Julie Dreyfus and Borhan Du Welz.

Vinyan is scheduled to open in France on October 1.

Emmanuelle Beart in Vinyan

Emmanuelle Beart, Rufus Sewell in Vinyan

Embodiment of Evil by Jose Mojica Marins

‘Embodiment of Evil’ Images: Brazilian Horror

Veteran “trash” filmmaker-actor José Mojica Marins’ Embodiment of Evil / Encarnação do Demônio (literally, “The Devil’s Incarnation”), one of the out-of-competition screenings at the 2008 Venice Film Festival, features the latest cinematic incarnation (bad pun intended) of Zé do Caixão (“Coffin Joe”), a demonic character that starred in a handful of Brazilian movies of the 1960s and 1970s, including Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver (“Tonight I’ll Take Possession of Your Corpse”) (1967) and O Estranho Mundo de Zé do Caixão / The Strange World of Coffin Joe (1968).

(According to Felipe M. Guerra at Boca do Inferno, Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver was butchered by Brazilian censors, who demanded that nudity and violence be excised, and that Zé do Caixão’s final speech be dubbed so the demonic villain would declare his final acceptance of Jesus Christ. In the original text, the unrepentant Zé proclaimed his atheism for all to hear.)

Marins, who turned 72 last March, also co-wrote the Embodiment of Evil screenplay with Dennison Ramalho. (The filmmaker actually began working on the script back in the ’60s, but due to a series of mishaps the project only came to fruition forty years later.) The story follows Zé do Caixão’s continuous search for the perfect woman so he can inseminate her and thus perpetuate his superior bloodline. In the cast: Marins (as Zé do Caixão), Cristina Aché, Raymond Castile, José Celso Martinez Corrêa (as the Antichrist), Rui Resende, Eduardo Chagas, and trash-flick veterans Débora Muniz and Jece Valadão.

Marins began his directorial career half a century ago. Among his more than thirty features are 48 Horas de Sexo Alucinante / 48 Hours of Hallucinatory Sex (1987), 24 Horas de Sexo Explícito / 24 Hours of Explicit Sex (1985), A Quinta Dimensão do Sexo / The Fifth Dimension of Sex (1984), Sexo e Sangue na Trilha do Tesouro / Sex and Blood on the Treasure Trail (1972), and À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma / At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964).

I should add that according to Felipe Guerra, José Mojica Marins is anything but a “trash” filmmaker. Guerra, in fact, calls Marins a “genius.”

Embodiment of Evil opened in Brazil last Aug. 8.

Venice Film Festival Out of Competition Screenings

Paolo Benvenuti Puccini e la fanciulla – Italy.

Riccardo Moretti, Tania Squillarlo, Giovanna Daddi, Debora Mattiello, Federica Chezzi

JIA Zhangke Heshang aiqing (Cry me a river) (short film) – China / Spain / France.

Abbas Kiarostami Shirin – Iran.

Juliette Binoche, Mahnaz Afshar, Niki Karimi

José Mojica Marins Encarnação do Demônio – Brazil.

José Mojica Marins, Débora Muniz, Raymond Castile

Mario Monicelli Vicino al Colosseo c’è Monti (short film) – Italy.

Manoel de Oliveira Do Visível ao Invisível (short film) – Brazil / Portugal.

Leon Cakoff, Ricardo Trepa

Fabrice du Welz Vinyan – France / UK / Belgium.

Emmanuelle Béart, Rufus Sewell

Out of Competition – Special Event

Adriano Celentano Yuppi Du (1975) – Italy.

Adriano Celentano, Charlotte Rampling, Claudia Mori, Gino Santercole

Out of Competition – Events

Domenico Modugno Tutto è musica (1963) – Italy, 97′

Domenico Modugno, Franco Franchi, Ciccio Ingrassia

Tito Schipa Jr. Orfeo 9 (1973) – Italy, 82′

Tito Schipa Jr., Renato Zero, Loredana Bertè

Nel blu dipinto di blu by Piero Tellini

Piero Tellini Nel blu dipinto di blu (Volare) (1959) – Italy, 104′

Domenico Modugno, Giovanna Ralli, Vittorio De Sica, Franco Migliacci

Ferrán Alberich Bajo el Signo de las Sombras (1984) – Spain, 31′


Cairo Station by Youssef Chahine

Youssef Chahine Bab el-hadid (1958) – Egypt / France, 90′

Farid Shawqi, Hend Rostom, Youssef Chahine, Abdel Aziz Khalil, Naima Wasfy

Vittorio De Sica Ladri di biciclette (1948) – Italy, 93′

Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Elena Altieri, Gino Saltamerenda

Vida en sombras by Lorenzo Llbobet Gracia

Lorenzo Llbobet Gracia Vida en Sombras (1947) – Spain, 90′

Fernando Fernán Gómez, María Dolores Pradera, Isabel de Pomés, Alfonso Estela

Masahiro Makino (above), Hiroshi Inagaki Kettô Takadanobaba (1937) – Japan, 64′

Tsumasaburo Bando, Tokuma Dan, Ryosuke Kagawa, Takashi Shimura

La Rabbia di Pasolini by Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pier Paolo Pasolini, Giuseppe Bertolucci La rabbia di Pasolini – Italy, 84′


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