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Venice 2021 : ‘Dune’ and Princess Diana Biopic to Debut at a Starry

Hollywood blockbusters are back on the program after a less celebrity-driven edition last year, but the event will still be far from business as usual.

Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in a scene from “Dune,” directed by Denis Villeneuve.Credit…Chia Bella James/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., via Associated Press

“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 “Dune,” the latest attempt to adapt that Frank Herbert novel following efforts by David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Scott’s “The Last Duel,” starring Damon as a 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 Larraín’s “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana; Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” about a sadistic ranch owner; and Paul Schrader’s “The Card Counter,” about a gambler caught in a revenge plot.
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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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New films by Denis Villeneuve and Pedro Almodóvar are heading to Venice, where Bong Joon Ho will lead the competition jury.

The 2021 Cannes Film Festival brought the international film circuit back to life in roaring fashion earlier this month (French filmmaker Julia Ducournau became the second woman director to win the Palme d’Or thanks to Neon release “Titane”), and next up are the trio of major fall film festivals in September: the Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival. Venice is first out of the gate by launching its 78th edition Wednesday, September 1. The lineup for Venice 2021 has now been revealed.

As previously announced, Pedro Almodóvar will kick off the 2021 Venice Film Festival with the world premiere of his new drama “Parallel Mothers.” The film will debut in competition and vie for the festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion. “Parallel Mothers” is written and directed by Almodóvar, and stars both regular and new collaborators, including Penélope Cruz, Milena Smit, Israel Elejalde, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Julieta Serrano, and Rossy De Palma. Almodóvar attended Venice last year to world premiere his short film “The Human Voice” out of competition. Venice was the rare 2020 festival that held an in-person event despite the pandemic.

Also announced prior to the official lineup announcement is the world premiere of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune,” set for Friday, September 3. The science-fiction epic is debuting out of competition.

Last year’s Golden Lion winner was Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland,” which went on to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. The 2019 Golden Lion winner was “Joker,” which earned 11 Oscar nominations and won Joaquin Phoenix the Academy Award for Best Actor. Suffice to say, Venice winners often go on to have long legs during the awards season that follows the festival. Other recent Venice winners include “Roma” and Best Picture winner “The Shape of Water.”

Zhao will return to Venice this year as a member of the competition jury, which is being presided over by “Parasite” Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho. The “Snowpiercer” and “Parasite” Oscar winner will be the first person from South Korea to serve as the president of the film festival’s seven-person jury. Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera hailed Bong as “one of the most authentic and original voices in worldwide cinema.” Additional competition jurors are actor Virginie Efira, actress Cynthia Erivo, actress Sarah Gadon, director Saverio Costanzo, and Alexander Nanau.

The 2021 Venice Film Festival runs September 1-11. Check out the official lineup for the festival below.


Opening Night
“Parallel Mothers,” Pedro Almodóvar (in competition)

Competition/Venezia 78
“Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon,” Ana Lily Amirpour
“Un Autre Monde,” Stephanie Brize
“The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion
“America Latina,” Damiano D’Innocenzo and Fabio D’Innocenzo
“L’Evenement,” Audrey Diwan
“Official Competition,” Gaston Duprat and Mariana Cohn
“Il Buco,” Michelangelo Frammartino
“Sundown,” Michel Franco
“Illusions Perdues,” Xavier Giannoli
“The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal
“Spencer,” Pablo Larrain
“Freaks Out,” Gabrielle Mainetti
“Qui Rido Io,” Mario Martone
“On the Job: The Missing 8,” Erik Matti
“Leave No Traces,” Jan P. Matuszynski
“Captain Volkonogov Escaped,” Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov
“The Card Counter,” Paul Schrader
“The Hand of God,” Paolo Sorrentino
“Reflection,” Valentyn Vasyanovych
“La Caja,” Lorenzo Vigas

Out of Competition (Fiction)
“Il Bambino Nascosto,” Roberto Ando (closing film of the festival)
“Les Choses Humaines,” Yvan Attal
“Ariaferma,” Leonardo di Costanzo
“Halloween Kills,” David Gordon Green
“La Scoula Cattolica,” Stefano Mordini
“Old Henry,” Potsy Ponciroli
“The Last Duel,” Ridley Scott
“Dune,” Denis Villeneuve
“Last Night in Soho,” Edgar Wright
“Scenes From a Marriage” (Episodes 1-5), Hagai Levi

Out of Competition (Non Fiction)
“Life of Crime 1984-2020,” Jon Alpert
“Tranchees,” Loup Bureau
“Viaggio Nel Crepuscolo,” Augusto Contento
“Republic of Silence,” Diana el Jeiroudi
“Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine
“Deandre#Deandre Storia Di Un Impiegato,” Roberta Lena
“Django and Django,” Luca Rea
“Ezio Bosso. Le Cose Che Restano,” Giorgio Verdelli

Out of Competition (Special Screenings)
“Le 7 Giornate di Bergamo,” Simona Ventura
“Il Cinema Al Tempo del Covid,” Andrea Segre

Out of Competition (Short Films)
“Plastic Semiotic,” Radu Jude
“The Night,” Tsai Ming-Liang
“Sad Film,” Vasili (Pseudonym)

“Les Promesses,” Thomas Kruithof
“Atlantide,” Yuri Ancarani
“Miracle,” Bogdan George Apetri
“Pilgrims,” Laurynas Bareisa
“Il Paradiso Del Pavone,” Laura Bispuri
“The Falls,” Chung Mong-Hong
“El Hoyo en la Cerca,” Joaquin Del Paso
“Amira,” Mohamed Diab
“A Plein Temps,” Eric Gravel
“107 Mothers,” Peter Kerekes
“Vera Dreams of the Sea,” Kaltrina Krasniqi
“White Building,” Kavich Neang
“Anatomy of Time,” Jakrawal Nilthamrong
“El Otro Tom,” Rodrigo Pla and Laura Santullo
“El Gran Movimiento,” Kiro Russo
“Once Upon a Time in Calcutta,” Aditya Vikram Sengupta
“Rhino,” Oleg Sentsov
“True Things,” Harry Wootliff
“Inu-Oh,” Yuasa Masaaki

Horizons/Orizzonti Extra
“Land of Dreams,” Sherin Neshat and Shoja Azari
“Costa Brava,” Mounia Akl
“Mama, I’m Home,” Vladimir Bitokov
“Ma Nuit,” Antoinette Boulat
“La Ragazza Ha Volato,” Wilma Labate
“7 Prisoners,” Alexandre Moratto
“The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic,” Teemu Nikki
“La Macchina Delle Immagini di Alfredo C.,” Roland Sejko