Jafar Panahi is no stranger to the Lido in Venice. He had earlier won the festival’s highest prize, the Golden Lion, for The Circle (2000). But this time, the inclusion hits different. Last month, Panahi was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by the Iranian judiciary, for simply protesting. No Bears is a political thriller that follows two parallel stories of love. It stars Panahi, Bakhtiyar Panjei, Naser Hashemi, Vahid Mobaseri, and Mina Kavani.
If the trailer is anything to go by, expect strong reactions when Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe drama Blonde premieres with an NC 17 rating (the highest rating in Motion Picture Association film rating system). Starring Ana de Armas, Blonde is based on the book by Joyce Carol Oates, and blends fact with fiction to trace the tragic life of the Hollywood icon. The cast includes Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Caspar Phillipson and Evan Williams, among others. Netflix will release the film globally in end-September, following the Venice premiere.
One of the most exciting titles in the lineup is Tar, Todd Field’s much-awaited return as director. His last film was Little Children, starring Kate Winslet, that released 16 years ago. Here he teams up with Cate Blanchett who stars as the fictional Lydia Tar, an acclaimed composer who rose to become the first female chief conductor of a German orchestra. Blanchett is a festival regular, having been the jury president in 2020 and has won the festival’s Best Actress prize for I’m Not There.
DON’T WORRY DARLING
Harry Styles and Florence Pugh promise a delightfully deranged tale of paranoia and mystery in this Olivia Wilde directorial. Also starring Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, Kiki Layne, Sydney Chandler and Nick Kroll, Don’t Worry Darling premieres in the Out of Competition section at the Lido. Ever since it went on the floors, the film has been creating a buzz for a number of reasons, but most notably for the steamy sequences between its leading stars. Pugh has been vocal that she won’t give in to this discussion any longer.
Noah Baumbach brings Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig together for White Noise, that will serve as the opening film of the festival. This Netflix film is based on the book of the same name by Don DeLillo, and written for the screen and directed by Baumbach. It follows an American family’s attempts to deal with everyday life. White Noise also stars Don Cheadle, Raffey Cassidy, Sam Nivola, May Nivola and Jodie Turner-Smith. This is Baumbach’s return to the Lido after Marriage Story in 2019.
Brendan Fraser is a 6,000-pound man living with obesity and trying to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. This is Aronofsky’s feature film directorial after 2018’s mother! that met with divided reactions. With longtime collaborator Matthew Libatique behind the lens, The Whale promises to be one of the talking points at Venice. It is also an A24 release, so we know we are in for the real deal.
BONES & ALL
Director Luca Guadignino and actor Timothee Chalamet team up once again after Call Me By Your Name for one of the most anticipated indie titles of the year. The Dune actor stars alongside Taylor Russell as a teen cannibal on a free run, embarking on a thousand-mile journey across the rural American landscape, in this adaptation of the eponymous Camille DeAngelis-written novel. Count us excited!
BARDO (or False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths)
Two-time Oscar-winning Mexican director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s new comedy drama revolves around a Mexican journalist and a documentary film-maker as they deal with existential crises. The film stars Daniel Gimenez Cacho and Griselda Siciliani. Considering it is Inarritu, Bardo, which is a Netflix release, is sure to land strong in the awards season post-Venice. We cannot wait!
Rising French director and documentary film-maker Alice Diop comes to the Lido with Saint Omer, which follows the journey of a young novelist named Rama looking for inspiration. She attends the trial of Laurence Coly, a young woman accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter. Her testimonies bring into force unexpected revelations. Rama intends to use this story to write a modern-day adaptation of the myth of Medea, but things don’t go as planned.
THE ETERNAL DAUGHTER
Not much is known about Joanna Hogg’s next directorial after the brilliant The Souvenir Part II. The Eternal Daughter is reportedly a gothic imagining of a parent-child relationship that unfolds when a middle-aged film-maker and her mother arrive at the English countryside. Tilda Swinton, a Hogg regular, and Carly-Sophia Davies star in this A24 release, which also has Martin Scorsese as an executive producer.