A Star Is Born—Again, in Venice

The Daily — Jul 23, 2018

The year in cinema is beginning to rouse from its summertime slumber. The Locarno Festival opens next week, and we’ll be spending the next few days sorting through lineup announcements as they come in from Venice. The big one, the seventy-fifth Venice International Film Festival, won’t be fully unveiled until Wednesday, but following last week’s news that the opener would be Damien Chazelle’s First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, Venice announced today that Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born will premiere on the Lido out of competition.

Written by, directed by, and starring Cooper alongside Lady Gaga, the new A Star Is Born will be the third remake of William A. Wellman’s 1937 original with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. The story of a famous male entertainer who plucks a young woman from obscurity only to see her star soar far higher than his own was retold in 1954, with George Cukor directing Judy Garland and James Mason, and again in a 1976 Barbra Streisand vehicle costarring Kris Kristofferson and directed by Frank Pierson.

Cooper’s version has been shown to potential exhibitors and, as Nancy Tartaglione and Pete Hammond report for Deadline, reaction so far has been enthusiastic. Streisand herself has seen “parts of it” and tells Deadline, “I’m really proud of him—he did a great job on this film.”

Venice Critics’ Week

Tomorrow, we’ll have the lineup from Venice Days, the program modeled on Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, and this morning, the Venice International Critics’ Week announced its slate for the thirty-third edition. Like the Critics’ Weeks in Cannes, Locarno, and the relatively young one in Berlin, Venice’s is organized independently from the headline festival it runs alongside. The Italian National Union of Film Critics has proven to have a keen eye for vital new talent, having hosted the premieres of debut features by Olivier Assayas, Pedro Costa, Abdellatif Kechiche, Pablo Trapero, Pernilla August, and Bryan Singer.

This year’s edition will open on August 29 with Rahi Anil Barve and Adesh Prasad’s Tumbbad, set in India in the nineteenth century. As Variety’s Nick Vivarelli reports, Critics’ Week artistic director Giona Nazzaro calls Tumbbad “a fast-paced parable about greed and ‘a visionary fantasy film, rich in visual inventions, special effects and blood.’” Also screening out of competition is the closing night film, Tunisian director Abdelhamid Bouchnak’s Dachra, a horror movie that “tackles the conflict between tradition and modernity through the hope for a revolution that is not yet accomplished,” as Nazzaro’s put it.

In between, seven features will screen in competition. 

  • Hajooj Kuka’s The Roundup is a comedy about a Sudanese revolutionary seeking to reunite with his girlfriend—and his gun.
  • In Andreas Goldstein’s Adam & Evelyn, a couple in a small town in East Germany fall out just as the Berlin Wall comes tumbling down.
  • Alexia Walther and Maxime Matray’s comedic Blonde Animals centers on a former sitcom star.
  • Saaed Al Batal and Ghiath Ayoub’s Still Recording is a documentary about two young idealists fighting with rebel forces in Syria.
  • Anna Eriksoon’s experimental horror film M explores the relationship between sexuality and death.
  • Letizia Lamartire’s We’ll Be Young and Beautiful is about a mother-and-son musical act.
  • Ivan Salatic’s You Have the Night weighs the effects of the closing of a shipyard on the lives of those who worked there.

All nine features are world premieres.

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