Lights, camera, strike!
Even though Hollywood’s on a timeout and cultural appropriation is causing some raised eyebrows, the 2023 Venice Film Festival is still winning hearts around the globe. “From some potential early Oscar frontrunners to films every cinephile should have on their watchlist, the festival has delivered some of the most exciting and intriguing 2023 titles,” writes Laura Babiak in the online magazine Observer.
One of those films is Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos’ newest project after the success of The Favorite and The Lobster. The Greek filmmaker delivers a Frankenstein-flavored tale that stars Emma Stone as a reanimated woman who must learn to live. The movie won the Golden Lion, making its route to the award season along with some biopics, a genre that always finds good space in the Oscar game: Michael Mann’s Ferrari, Sophia Coppola’s Priscilla and Maestro, Bradley Cooper’s second directorial effort at the Italian festival after the success of A Star is Born (2019).
The legendary Enzo Ferrari comes roaring to life in the movie Ferrari. Starring Adam Driver as the driving legend, the Italian A-list actor Pierfrancesco Favino caused a stir when he publicly stated that an Italian actor should have played the role instead of Adam Driver, a two-time Academy Awards nominee.
Another controversy involved Maestro, the story of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose sparked accusations of antisemitism. At the press conference, make-up artist Kazu Hiro apologized while Bernstein’s family supported the filmmaker’s decision. The film, depicting the love story of composer Bernstein and his wife Felicia (played by Carey Mulligan), received a seven-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival.
The same remarkable seven-minute standing ovation went to the quiet drama Memory, directed by festival favorite Michel Franco. Viewers were enthralled and applauded stars Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard for their outstanding performances. Peter Sarsgaard even won the prestigious Volpi Cup for Best Actor.
Ava DuVernay made history by becoming the first African American woman to participate in competition at the festival with Origin, an ambitious narrative adaptation of a non-fiction book about the origins of racism, while Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla handled Cailee Spaeny the Coppa Volpi for best actress. Spaeny plays Elvis Presley’s young wife in the adaptation of Priscilla’s autobiography.
Richard Linklater injected energy into the Lido with his action-comedy Hit Man. Starring the ever-affable Glen Powell, this film is set to captivate audiences at multiple festivals this fall.
On the other hand, David Fincher has returned to his mastery of thrillers with The Killer, a neo-noir movie that showcases Michael Fassbender as an assassin driven by an unrelenting vendetta.
The 80th edition of the oldest film festival in the world was different from the previous by some other peculiarities: every American star attending the festival (Jessica Chastain, Adam Driver, Patrick Dempsey, Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bella Thorne) showed solidarity with the actors on strike, Jessica Chastain even wearing a SAG-AFTRA T-shirt, while international producers presented their content as a potential solution to the void left by the American strikes. The topic was discussed on the panel Opening Boundaries by ITTV International Forum e TechInEntertainment, one of the collateral events of the festival, organized by Valentina Martelli and Cristina Scognamillo. The panel gathered an important parterre: Maria Pia Ammirati, CEO Rai Fiction; Tinny Andreatta, Vice President of Netflix Italian content; Nicola Borrelli, Director of MIC; Nicola Maccanico, CEO of Cinecittà; Luca Milano, Director Rai Kids; Maria Grazia Saccà, CEO of Titanus Production, and Roberto Stabile, Special projects manager at MIC/Cinecittà.
Sources: Observer, Kikapress.com, Ittvfestival.com