- Title: Pitt, Streep lead Venice star draw as festival heads to space, Gotham and Panama
- Date: 27th August 2019
- Summary: VENICE, ITALY (FILE - SEPTEMBER 3, 2013) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** ACTRESS SCARLETT JOHANSSON GOING TO MEET FANS AND SIGN AUTOGRAPHS VARIOUS OF JOHANSSON SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS
- Embargoed: 10th September 2019 19:47
- Keywords: Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera Ad Astra Joker
- Location: VENICE, ITALY / CANNES, FRANCE / VARIOUS FILM LOCATIONS
- City: VENICE, ITALY / CANNES, FRANCE / VARIOUS FILM LOCATIONS
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Film
- Reuters ID: LVA002ATZUUDP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The world's oldest film festival kicks off in Venice on Wednesday (August 28) with a starry line-up including Brad Pitt's space adventure, Joaquin Phoenix's turn as the Joker and Meryl Streep in a drama based on the Panama Papers expose.
Hollywood A-listers will descend on the lagoon city's Lido Island for 11 days of premieres and parties, promoting their latest works they hope will go on to enjoy awards season success.
The Venice Film Festival draws top filmmakers, A-list stars and auteur directors in recent years premiering movies like "La La Land", "Gravity" and "Roma". Looking at the run-down for this year, International Correspondent for the Hollywood Reporter Ariston Anderson told Reuters it's another strong line-up:
"It's a great line up you know, Hollywood loves coming to Italy you don't have to you know twist someone's arm to come and spend a few days in Venice so there's you know there is going to be great A-list talent."
With Netflix absent from Cannes due to that festival's competition rules, the streaming giant, which last year won Venice's top Golden Lion prize with "Roma", returns with offerings critics are already hailing as must-sees.
Starring Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman and a spate of other stars, Steven Soderbergh's "The Laundromat" based on the Panama Papers expose of tax-avoiding offshore financial holdings is among 21 films from Europe, Asia, the Americas, Australia and Saudi Arabia in competition.
Adding the Hollywood touch will be Brad Pitt with "Ad Astra", a sci-fi epic in which he plays an astronaut on a mission to find his father and Johnny Depp for "Waiting for the Barbarians", based on the J.M. Coetzee novel. Both films are in competition.
A well-known villain will also make an appearance on the Lido in Todd Phillip's "Joker".
"It's really exciting because it's one of the first film from DC that's not your typical super hero or super villain movie, it's really much more of a character study so I think it's very smart for them to launch it at a festival you know, kind of an artistic festival where you get people that will appreciate it for what it is," said Anderson.
Only two female directors are in the competition line-up: Haifaa Al-Mansour with "The Perfect Candidate" and Shannon Murphy for "Babyteeth". That number is double from last year.
â€œI would say every year kind of the same story comes up and the festival says the same thing, you know, 'we're not going to have quotas' but it's never... it's never about quotas, no one is saying you know we need a certain amount of female directors, we need a certain amount of this and that, it's more about having those discussions about, you know unconscious bias, are we just chosing the same old people?" said Anderson.
Another discussion point is the inclusion of Roman Polanski's "An Officer and a Spy" about the 19th century Dreyfus affair in the competition line-up and the screening of Nate Parker's "American Skin".
Polanski, 86, was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last year for violating a conduct code it adopted following hundreds of accusations of sexual harassment or assault in the entertainment industry.
The Polish-born director in 1977 pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.
Parker's last film "Birth of a Nation" was derailed in 2017 by a decade-old lawsuit involving a rape charge against the filmmaker. Parker was acquitted of the 1999 lawsuit.
"It's a powerful festival...unless someone publicly said you know, 'I refuse to go to Venice because of this' then I don't think there is going to be any change or effect. We have seen a lot of people come and say 'I wish there were more women,' you know, 'I don't think this is right' but they are more than happy to go home with a prize or launch to launch their film here," Ariston said.
The August 28 - September 7 event, the festival's 76th edition, will see Argentine director Lucrecia Martel head the jury.
(Production: Christian Levaux, Cristiano Corvino, Helena Williams, Sarah Mills, Hanna Rantala)
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