Venetian Cat sidebar, the 67th Venice International Film Festival takes place this year from September 1 to September 11, 2010. The opening and closing films are American bookends -- on September 1st, Darren Aronofsky's dramatic thriller, "Black Swan," starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis will open the festival, and Julie Taymor's adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," starring Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Chris Cooper will close it on September 11th. (You can read what I wrote about The Wrestler, Aronofsky's offering at the festival in 2008, if you click here.)
Some of you might not know that the Venice Film Festival was the very first film festival on the entire planet.
The Venice Film Festival (Italian Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica) is the oldest film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi in 1932 as the "Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica", the festival has since taken place every year in late August or early September on the island of the Lido, Venice, Italy. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi. It is one of the world's most prestigious film festivals and is part of the Venice Biennale, a major biennial exhibition and festival for contemporary art.
It looks like Marco Mueller, the Director of the film festival, has rounded up some impressive folks this year to serve on the international jury. The President is none other than Mr. Inglorious Bastards himself, Quentin Tarantino. Also on the jury is the Latin American writer Guillermo Arriaga, who wrote and directed one of my favorite films in 2008, The Burning Plain (click here to read that Venetian Cat blog); Lithuanian actress Ingeborga Dapkunaite, "one of the most talented actresses of the Soviet Union;" French director and screenwriter Arnaud Desplechin; Italian director and screenwriter Luca Guadagnino; Italian director and screenwriter Gabriele Salvatores, who won an Oscar for Mediterraneo; and American musician and composer Danny Elfman, someone whose scores have always transported me right into the film. Now, that sounds like an extremely interesting mixture of personalities, talents and countries, and should create some fascinating dynamics. Click here for more details: http://www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/news/jury.html
This year, the Orrizonti section has been revamped and is sure to hold some surprises. "Orrizonti" means "Horizons," and if Paolo Baratta, the President of La Biennale, and Marco Mueller manifest their vision, in the future the word "orrizonti" will need no translation. Let's let Paolo Baratta explain:
An introduction by the President of La Biennale di Venezia
An important innovation at the 67th Venice International Film Festival is the strengthening of the “Orizzonti” section.
Created in 2004 and dedicated from the very start to “new trends” in international film, this section is now reinforced and open to “custom-format” works – and thus to short films too – to provide a wider and more dynamic outlook on new trends in the various languages that converge in film.
“Orizzonti” therefore pays particular attention to the experience of directors who were trained in different areas of expression.
With this change, it comes to occupy a new space, and becomes a “laboratory” for new artistic languages within the wider “laboratory” of la Biennale di Venezia.
The Venice International Film Festival thus confirms its role as a centre of reference for knowledge and research into trends in the art of filmmaking
The Orrizonti section of the festival will be co-chaired by Iranian filmmaker Shiran Neshat (Women Without Men) and German director (of Turkish origin) Faith Akin (Soul Kitchen). Soul Kitchen was one of my favorite films last year, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to write about it. If the Orrizonti section uncovers the next evolution of Bill Viola, my favorite contemporary artist, that would be exciting indeed.
Also on opening night, September 1st, Robert Rodriguez's Machete will have its world premiere at midnight. So we will have Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino together on the Island of Lido at the same time!
Over on the other side of the world, George Clooney's latest film, The American, is also opening on September 1st, so he won't be here that night, even though the film is set in Italy. However, I was pleased when Focus Films, the distribution company, asked me to come up with a list of five films that summed up Italian life. Since Venetian life skews reality in its own unique way, I focused on Venice: