Venice 2018

Venice Announces an Outstanding Lineup

The Daily — Jul 25, 2018
Mike Leigh’s Peterloo (2018)

“Amazingly strong Venice lineup,” tweeted Sight & Sound editor Nick James earlier today, pretty well summing up initial reaction to the list of titles just announced in Rome. The seventy-fifth Venice International Film Festival will run from August 29 through September 8, and the competition alone boasts such names as Mike Leigh, Olivier Assayas, the Coen brothers, Jennifer Kent, Carlos Reygadas, Julian Schnabel, and Shinya Tsukamoto. And premiering out of competition will be a new documentary by Frederick Wiseman and the long-awaited completed version of Orson Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind.


Venice usually limits the number of films competition for the Golden Lion to twenty, but given the bounty this year, organizers have allowed themselves twenty-one. As noted last week, Damien Chazelle’s First Man, the story of Apollo 11, NASA’s successful mission to put a man on the moon, will open this year’s edition. 

Peterloo is Mike Leigh’s most ambitious and expensive project yet, and it’s a story he’s wanted to tell for years. On August 16, 1819, tens of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Field in Manchester to rally peacefully for fair parliamentary representation. When a calvary charged the crowd, wielding drawn swords, eighteen protestors died and up to 700 were injured. “The universal significance of this historic event becomes ever more relevant in our own turbulent times,” Leigh told Vanessa Thorpe in the Observer last year.

Rick Alverson (The Comedy, Entertainment) cowrote The Mountain with Colm O’Leary and filmmaker Dustin Guy Defa. Jeff Goldblum plays a doctor based on Walter Jackson Freeman II, an early advocate of the lobotomy. Befriending a young man (Tye Sheridan) whose mother he’s lobotomized, the doctor becomes the head of a cult, “leading these people in these kind of Americana, religioso, hysterical chantings, in relation to Mount Shasta,” as Goldblum explained to IndieWire’s Kate Erbland in March. The cast also includes Hannah Gross, Denis Lavant, and Udo Kier.

Joel and Ethan Coen set out to make The Ballad of Buster Scruggs as an anthology series, a collection of six tales set in the wild, wild west. They’ve since whittled the project down to a feature film and, as Kristopher Tapley reports for Variety, it will be playing in theaters and streaming on Netflix by the end of the year. The cast includes Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, and Brendan Gleeson.

Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria is, of course, a reimagining of Dario Argento’s 1977 horror classic. Dakota Johnson stars as a young American ballet dancer attending a prestigious dance academy in Berlin run by Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). Strange premonitions are followed by a series of gruesome murders. The cast includes Jessica Harper, who starred in the original, and the score comes from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

Olivier Assayas’s Non-Fiction, set in the world of publishing, stars Guillaume Canet and Juliette Binoche. “I didn’t write it as a comedy,” Assayas told Nick Newman at the Film Stage in April, “but, in gradually putting the elements together, I kind of realized that was the closest to defining it, even if it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever done.”

The original title of Paul Greengrass’s new film was Norway, and the new title, 22 July, is perilously close to U – July 22, the feature by Erik Poppe that premiered in competition at the Berlinale this year. Both films recount the events of that dreadful day in 2011 when a right-wing extremist took seventy-seven lives.

Also lined up for the competition:

  • Vox Lux, Brady Corbet’s follow-up to The Childhood of a Leader (2015), spans fifteen years in the life of a pop star (Natalie Portman) beginning in 1999. Early reports suggest that Corbet shot the film on 65 mm.
  • Sosuke Ikematsu (Shoplifters) plays a samurai without a master in Killing by Shinya Tsukamoto, best known as a director for Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) and Fires on the Plain (2014) and as an actor for his performance in Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016).
  • The Nightingale, Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to The Babadook (2014), is set in 1825 in a British penal colony in what is now the Australian state of Tasmania. A young female convict seeks revenge for the killing of her family.

  • Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Riz Ahmed star in Jacques Audiard’s western The Sisters Brothers, an adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s novel in which two brothers set out to kill a prospector accused of robbing a powerful crime boss.
  • In What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire?, Roberto Minervini (The Other Side) tells the story of a black community in the south as they respond to a series of murders of black men during the summer of 2017.
  • Willem Dafoe plays Vincent van Gogh in Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity's Gate. The biopic also features Rupert Friend as Vincent’s brother Theo, Oscar Isaac as Paul Gauguin, and Frank Molinaro as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
  • In Where Life Is Born, Mexican director Carlos Reygadas takes on the lead role of a husband in an open relationship with his wife. When she falls for another man, he’s forced to take stock of his life.
  • In László Nemes’s Sunset, shot on 35 mm, a young woman goes in search of her past in Budapest in 1913.
  • As noted just yesterday, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, in which a duchess (Rachel Weisz) and a servant (Emma Stone) compete for the affections of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), will open the New York Film Festival on September 28.
  • Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white Roma, inspired by his childhood in Mexico City in the 1970s, will roll on to Toronto after Venice and has been set as the NYFF’s Centerpiece presentation.
  • Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Werk ohne autor (literally, “A Work Without an Author”) centers on an artist (Tom Schilling) who’s escaped to the west from East Germany. This is the director’s third feature after The Lives of Others (2005) and The Tourist (2010).
  • Mario Martone’s Capri-Revolution is set on the titular island with Italy on the verge of entering the First World War. The story centers on a young female goatherd and her encounters with the northern Europeans living on Capri.
  • David Oeloffen’s Close Enemies depicts a reunion of a criminal (Matthias Schoenaerts) and a police officer (Reda Kateb) who had once been childhood friends.
  • In Gonzalo Tobal’s Acusada, a young student is the prime suspect in the case of the murder of her best friend.

Out of Competition

Orson Welles began shooting The Other Side of the Wind in 1970 and carried on until 1976 when, to make a long story short, he ran out of money. The reels—more than a thousand of them—were stored in a vault in Paris and stayed there until March of last year when two producers, Frank Marshall and Filip Jan Rymsza, decided to piece together the story of a famous filmmaker (John Huston) determined to stage a comeback in Hollywood. The completed reconstruction, with a new score by the legendary Michel Legrand, was to have premiered at Cannes this year alongside Morgan Neville’s They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, a documentary about the last fifteen years of Welles’s life. But when Netflix, which financed the recovery project, fell out with the festival, that major cinematic event was delayed. Venice is the lucky benefactor. And as Ray Kelly reports at Wellesnet, Netflix will begin streaming both The Other Side of the Wind and Neville’s documentary on November 2.

Any new documentary by Frederick Wiseman is also big news. His latest, Monrovia, Indiana, depicts the everyday life in this farming community with a population of around 1,400. Not much is known yet about another documentary, Tsai Ming-liang’s Your Face, other than that Lee Kang-sheng, who has appeared in all of Tsai’s films, will be in this one, too. Another mystery is Process, a new documentary from Sergei Loznitsa, who already this year has presented Victory Day in Berlin and Donbass in Cannes.

Ron Mann’s Carmine Street Guitars is a portrait of Greenwich Village guitar maker Rick Kelly and his apprentice. “This movie was really made thanks to Jim Jarmusch,” Mann tells Variety. “Not only for introducing me to Carmine Street Guitars but also for films like Coffee and Cigarettes and Patterson—this film has that sort of tone.”

Errol Morris’s American Dharma looks to be a one-on-one interview with former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. And Gastón Solnicki’s Introduzione all'oscuro is a tribute to Hans Hurch, the late director of the Viennale.

Moving on to the fictional features, Pablo Trapero (El Clan) will present La Quietud, the story of a woman’s return from Paris to her family estate in Buenos Aires during the military dictatorship. In S. Craig Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete, two policeman (Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn) are suspended when their brutal tactics are caught on video. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi directs herself, Noemie Lvovsky, Valeria Golino, and Yolande Moreau in Les estivants, the story of a filmmaker struggling with her next project in the wake of a bad breakup. Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut with A Star Is Born. And even these highlights don’t cover the full out-of-competition lineup.


Established in 1932, Venice is the oldest festival in the world, and over the past three quarters of a century, it’s sprouted a few sidebars. Orizzonti (literally, “Horizons”) aims to spotlight “the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema,” so there will be plenty of discoveries to be made. One name does leap out from the lineup, though: Mary Harron, director of I Shot Andy Warhol (1996) and American Psycho (2000). Matt Smith, known to most as Prince Philip in The Crown, will play Charles Manson in Charlie Says, which actually focuses on the three women sentenced to death for the infamous murders in 1969.

Venice Classics

Two weeks ago, the festival presented a list of seventeen restorations slated to premiere in the Venice Classics section, including landmark works by Alain Resnais, Larisa Shepitko, Luchino Visconti, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Billy Wilder. Today sees the additions of seven documentaries about cinema. Peter Bogdanovich’s The Great Buster will explore the life and work of one of the giants of early cinema, Buster Keaton. Claire Pijman pays tribute to a fellow Dutch cinematographer in Living the Light — Robby Müller. The late and already sorely missed “Master of Light” is best known for his work with Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch, but he also left an indelible mark on films by Barbet Schroeder, Alex Cox, and William Friedkin. The latter is the subject of another film in the lineup, Francesco Zippel’s documentary, Friedkin Uncut.

Bruce Weber’s Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast is a portrait of Robert Mitchum shot on black-and-white 35 mm in the late 1990s, when the legendary actor was laying down tunes for a projected album. Making a surprisingly quick follow-up to his film The Eyes of Orson Welles, which just premiered at Cannes in May, Mark Cousins is back with a new documentary, Women Making Films: A New Road Movie Through Cinema.

André Di Mauro’s Humberto Mauro is a tribute to his granduncle, a pioneering director in Brazilian and Latin American cinema. And Giancarlo Rolandi and Federico Pontiggia’s 24/25 Il Fotogramma in Più focuses on the history of frame rates, that is, the number of frames shot per second in cinema and television.

Sconfini and VR

Sconfini is a noncompetitive section of odds and ends that don’t neatly fit anywhere else and, of the eight selections this year, three stand out: the three-hour-plus extended cut of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011), which we’ll be releasing on August 28; a new short film from Ramin Bahrani, Blood Kin, about a teenager in Texas who killed his father; and Iranian director Amir Naderi’s new feature, Magic Lantern, with Jacqueline Bisset. The festival will also present a good number of interactive and linear virtual reality experiences. And in case you missed it, catch up on our reporting on the lineups for the Critics’ Week and Venice Days sections of the festival.

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