‘Dune’ and ‘Spencer’ to Debut at a Starry Venice Film Festival
“Dune,” Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated science-fiction epic starring Timothée Chalamet, and Pablo Larraín’s “Spencer,” which dramatizes Princess Diana’s decision to divorce Prince Charles, are among the movies that will premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
The festival, scheduled to run from Sept. 1-11, will also see the presentation of new films by Pedro Almodóvar (“Madres Paralelas,” starring Penélope Cruz), Ridley Scott (“The Last Duel,” with Matt Damon) and Jane Campion (the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring “The Power of the Dog”), as well as Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, “The Lost Daughter,” based on a novel by Elena Ferrante and starring Olivia Colman.
The star-studded lineup, announced at a news conference on Monday, suggests that this year’s festival will be a more glamorous affair after last year’s scaled-down pandemic edition, which featured few celebrity names.
The presence of some Hollywood blockbusters on the program shows that “Americans have emerged from the lockdown and they are ready to restart,” Alberto Barbera, the festival’s artistic director, said at the news conference.
Some of the most anticipated U.S.-funded movies will appear out of competition, including Villeneuve’s “Dune,” the latest attempt to film Frank Herbert’s epic novel. It follows efforts by David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel,” starring Matt Damon as a medieval knight who challenges his squire, played by Adam Driver, to a duel after his wife (Jodie Comer) accuses the sidekick of rape.
“Halloween Kills,” the latest movie in the “Halloween” horror franchise, will also premiere out of competition. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis, who will receive the festival’s lifetime achievement award.
In the competition, Almodóvar’s “Madres Paralelas” (“Parallel Mothers”), about two women who meet in a hospital where they are about to give birth, is one of 21 films that will compete for the Golden Lion, the festival’s main prize.
It will be up against Pablo Larraín’s “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana; Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” based on a novel about a Drug Enforcement Administration officer on the Mexican-U.S. border and starring Benedict Cumberbatch; and Paul Schrader’s “The Card Counter,” about a gambler who finds himself caught in a revenge plot.
Five of the 21 competition films are directed by women, Barbera said — down from eight last year. “It might seem a step backward, but that is just a partial point of view,” he added. Female directors appeared to have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic more than their male counterparts, he said, adding, “I really hope they will have a comeback.”
Bong Joon Ho, the director of “Parasite,” will chair the competition jury that also includes the British actress Cynthia Erivo and Chloé Zhao, the director of “Nomadland,” which won last year’s Golden Lion and went on to win the Academy Award for best film.
This year’s festival may see the return of blockbusters to Venice, but it will still be far from business as usual. Roberto Cicutto, the festival’s president, said at the news conference that rules introduced last year to limit the spread of the coronavirus, such as compulsory seat reservations and masks for indoor screenings, would likely continue.
In line with Italian government regulations coming into force Aug. 6, anyone attending screenings, or even eating indoors at the festival site, will be required to show proof of having received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, a recent negative test result or a certificate showing proof of having recovered from the illness in the past six months.
Italy’s government announced the requirements this month as virus numbers rose across the country. On Sunday, the public health authorities reported new 4,742 cases. That is far down from this year’s peak of over 25,000 new daily cases in March, but the rise in cases has caused concern in a country that the pandemic hit hard last year.
“This year, we hoped we could be more relaxed,” Cicutto said. “For the time being, it isn’t so. But we continue to hope.”
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