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VENICE 2003 Highlights

The De Hadeln Selection


- The 60th Mostra: Bertolucci, Campion, Weir, the Coens, Bergman, Allen, Scott and Gitai - world cinema at its best, surprises and absent friends

The De Hadeln Selection

Venice outperforms Cannes. In theory, the Italian event may well have the better over this year’s disappointing French Festival and a routine Berlinale. We present (almost) all of Moritz De Hadeln’s selection. While forecast will only become fact after the 31 July press conference, informed sources say...

As most of you alread know, Bernardo Bertolucci will receive an honorary Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion at the 60th Mostra (27 August-6 September). Well, it’s not true. What is however true is that Bertolucci, who is scheduled to receive the Fiesole Award for Masters of Cinema tomorrow, 8 July, will present his latest eagerly awaited feature, The Dreamers in Venice. Made on location in Paris, The Dreamers is about the cultural revolution of May 1968, a subject that the Italian director first touched upon in one of his early film, the breathtakingly stunning, Prima della Rivoluzion (Before the Revolution), starring Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel, Eva Green and Truffaut’s "pet" actor, Jean-Pierre Léaud, as himself. Initially, The Dreamers was entitled “Paris ‘68”. Excerpts will be screened at the Fiesole Awards ceremony.
Then we have Venice.
Bertolucci's charisma cannot be denied: in the course of his illustrious career, he has won three Silver Ribbons, a Golden Leopard, one David di Donatello, one César, two Oscars and a Golden Globe. There is a good chance that The Dreamers will screen out of competition. This film was also Bertolucci’s professional return to Paris, thirty years after the tragic and anonymous eroticisim of Last Tango. Bertolucci was dragged over hot coals for that film. He was charged with obscenity and condemned for blasphemy. He lost the right to vote for five years and the world learned another way to use for butter.
The Dreamers will be no less powerful. “The film has a strong erotic content,” said Bertolucci, “It was part-and-parcel of the revolution, that era. You had to go against the flow in everything, not only in terms of politics.”

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The list of Italian directors on the Lido is a long one. Although Ermanno Olmi announced that his Cantando dietro i paraventi won’t be ready in time, another great director, a contemporary of Bertolucci’s, is engaged in a battle to finish his film in time. We refer to Marco Bellocchio and Buongiorno Notte. The film is about the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Italian politician, Aldo Moro, told from the kidnappers’ point of view. Bellocchio’s cast includes Luigi Lo Cascio and Maya Sansa. Last year Bellocchio presented his My Mother’s Smile in Cannes, to resounding success and there is a strong likelihood that Buongiorno Notte may screen in competition in Venice. In any case, it has an excellent chance of inclusion in the official programme.
Another Italian in Venice is Paolo Virzì with Caterina va in Città (Making of), tarring Claudio Amendola, Margherita Buy, Sergio Castellitto and a group of adolescent girls. The film was made on location in a Roman high school. This is a welcome return to Venice, where Virzì won the jury Grand Prix for Ovosodo.
It is virtually impossible to classify Paolo Benvenuti. Discreet, intelligent and intellectual, he came to the forefront of public attention a few years ago with Gostanza da Libbiano, winner of an important award in Locarno. The Venice selectors saw his latest film and liked it.
Daniele Ciprì and Franco Maresco are known for going against the flow. After their scandalous Totò che visse due volte, their latest offering is Il ritorno di Cagliostro. Adored by Enrico Ghezzi, the creator of Cinico TV, Ciprì & Maresco’s new film is about two hair-brained brothers, passionate about cinema, who set up a production company in the 1950s. They hire a former Hollywood glory and find themselves caught up in the middle of criminal underworld trafficking whilst trying to complete a film called “Cagliostro’s Return”.
There is also a chance that Anglo-Italian Edoardo Winspeare’s Il Miracolo be selected for competition.

The Italian contingent is also likely to feature a number of films out of competition. But let’s not lose sight of the media visibility a Venice screening generates, especially in the sidebar sections. The Venice selectors enjoyed the films of all of the following directors, some of whom are engaged in a desperate race against time to finish. Their names? Pasquale Pozzessere, Antonietta De Lillo, Pasquale Scimeca and Alessandro Piva. After the success of La Capagira, Piva’s latest film, Vita Morte e Miracoli, is a comedy set in Taranto in Puglia and it stars Luigi Lo Cascio and Sergio Rubini. It’s about a a irreprehensible and shy civil servant, and his rather wilder brother-in-law who really get to know one another during the course of one night spent looking for a stolen car... Pasquale Scimeca’s film is entitled Gli indesiderabili.

The names alone are more than sufficient: Jane Campion, Peter Weir, the brothers Coen, Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen, George Ridley Scott, Amos Gitai. The best that world cinema can offer. New Zealander Campion will present In The Cut starring Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon and Jennifer Jason-Leigh. Peter Weir’s Master and Commander, with Russell Crowe is a virtual certainty and Peter Greenaway could present the second instalment of his monumental trilogy, The Tulse Luper Suitcases. A title well worth looking forward to, after the English filmmaker demonstrated his mastery of the digital 7th art in Cannes.
Israel’s Amos Gitai will present Alila while former Cannes victors, the Joel and Ethan Coen, will subject Venetian audiences to Intolerable Cruelty with a veritable galaxy of stars headed by George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Billy Bob Thornton. Another eagerly awaited feature is Ridley Scott’s Matchstick Men, with Nicolas Cage.
After giving Venice a miss in favour of an appearance on the Croisette, Woody Allen is back with Anything Else, a film that, praise the Lord! – he also stars in opposite Glenn Close and Danny De Vito.

Moritz De Hadeln and his team’s master stroke could well be the return of the solitary Sweden, Ingmar Bergman. Like Garbo, he said he “wanted to be alone” twenty years ago, but now, at the age of 84, he has completed a new film entitled Sarabanda. It sees the return of Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephsson, the protagonists of Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage.

Don’t worry, this is not about the Golden Lions although two Lifetime Achievement awards will be presented this year. One to a director, the other almost certainly to an actor. The Bianchi Award, presented by the Italian Film Journalists’ Union, will go to Italian veteran Nino Manfredi. The presentation will include the Italian premiere of La fine di un mistero, where Manfredi plays Federico Garcia Lorca but in this film, instead of being executed by a Fascist firing squad in 1936, the poet’s life is saved and we find him alive and well and living as an elderly street person in Granada.

Those being honoured this year include some of the true greats of Italian cinema: Carlo Ponti, Angelo Rizzoli, Franco Cristaldi and Dino De Laurentiis. Goffredo Lombardo is the subject of a major retrospective covering 1945 to 1975. An homage to Alberto Sordi is more than likely.
Katherine Hepburn, the most independent, headstrong, contemporary and intelligent star that Hollywood ever produced has left us, but her memory and that incredible face will live on forever. Venice will pay due tribute with the screening of the restored version of Summertime.

Those who we won’t be seeing in Venice: Quentin Tarantino, whose extremely violent Kill Bill! starring Uma Thurman, is unlikely to be ready in time for an appearance on the Lido. China’s Wong Kar-wai has spent the last three years on 2046 (after In the Mood for Love). The film, which stars Maggie Cheung, was put on hold because of the SARS epidemic and completion is still a long way off. Theo Angelopoulos won’t be there either: he too has yet to finish Il primo prato, the first episode of a trilogy about the 20th Century. Gianni Amelio is unlikely to make it with Le Chiavi di Casa, starring Kim Rossi Stuart and Charlotte Rampling. The same applies to Silvio Soldini and Agata e la tempesta, Mario Martone with L’odore del sangue and Dario Argento with Il Cartaio.
That said, the Venetian line up promises to be one of the best for a long time.

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