Clooney, Damon and Firth all head for Venice

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The line-up for the 2009 Venice Film Festival has been announced. Here’s a rundown of what we’ll be looking out for when Time Out heads to Italy on September 2-12


The line-up of the 66th edition of the Venice Film Festival has been announced, and it’s a broad and intriguing mixture that contains everything from left-field Hollywood fare, Asian animation, political documentary, French auteur cinema, and – possibly craziest of the lot, Werner Herzog’s reimagining of an Abel Ferrara film.

Festival programmer Marco Muller must know that a lot is riding on this year’s competition entries, especially as last year’s competition line-up was considered to be something of a damp squib. A brief scan down the list of titles throws up names like George Clooney, (‘Men Who Stare At Goats’), Matt Damon (‘The Informant!’), Colin Firth (‘A Single Man’), Charlize Theron (‘The Road’) and Michael Moore (‘Capitalism: A Love Story). So this year, star power will not be in short supply.

Yet, there are also plenty of films from reliable auteurs who could and should deliver the goods on the Lido this year: films like Jacques Rivette’s ’36 Vues du Pic Saint Loup’, Fatih Akin’s ‘Soul Kitchen’, Claire Denis’s ‘White Material’, Todd Solondz’s ‘Life During Wartime’ (with Paris Hilton rumoured to have a small role) and George Romero’s latest in his ever-reliable zombie series, ‘Survival of the Dead’.

Films we are particularly looking forward to this year include John Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’, which was supposed to open in the UK earlier this year, but had its release dates moved for reasons only known to the makers and the studio. Cormac McCarthy’s book, of course, makes for a bracing, if relentlessly bleak, read, and if Hillcoat has made a film that captures just a modicum of the grimy desolation offered by McCarthy’s spare and haunting prose, then we could be in for something very special.

French director Patrice Chéreau impressed in 2005 with his intense period drama ‘Gabrielle’, so might his latest film, ‘Persecution’, which stars Romain Duris and Charlotte Gainsbourg, be a good bet for the Golden Lion? Also, the festival marks the return of Giuseppe Tornatore, the Italian director behind the much-loved ‘Cinema Paradiso’, whose autobiographical, Sicily-set epic ‘Baaria’ will open proceedings this year.

Straying from the competition for a moment, there are new films from Abel Ferrara, an Italian juvenile crime drama entitled ‘Napoli, Napoli Napoli’, Spaniard Jaume Balaguero delivers ‘[Rec] 2’, which is the sequel to his inventive and very scary horror movie from last year, and Oliver Stone brings with him ‘South of the Border’, his potentially controversial documentary on Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez.

Of course, Time Out will be on hand to give you the word on all these movies The festival kicks off on September 2, so keep an eye on these pages for regular Venice updates.

Author: Time Out



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