We've known for some time now that Catherine Breillat's Sleeping Beauty (image above) would open the Orizzonti (Horizons) section of this year's Venice Film Festival and that Hong Sang-soo's Oki's Movie would close it. Now the full lineup of 21 features and 43 shorts, plus four films screening Out of Competition, has been announced — yet not posted anywhere that I can find at the moment other than behind Variety's paywall. But the list of features follows, and links for and notes on the films, too, will eventually be added.
VENICE - ORIZZONTI - FEATURES
Catherine Breillat's Sleeping Beauty. Synopsis (via Ioncinema): "There was a time in a faraway castle the birth of a little princess named Anastasia. The old fairy Carabosse cut the umbilical cord while three young fairies emerge breathless. The fairy godmother has launched a curse: at the age of 16 years, the child will pierce the hand and die. The three fairies come to tempt fate. Instead of dying, Anastasia sleep for a hundred years." The festival quotes Breillat: "Unlike Barbe Bleue, I would like to consider this fairytale not as a story that two girls tell each other, but as the story of a girl being born (she does not yet know into what world), and creates her own little girl's world. Childhood is a long and ruthless limbo that precedes adolescence — even if that is precisely when the fairytale beginning of the story is set. Hence the girl grows little by little and becomes an adolescent, who naively believes that she knows everything about life. But life is not a fairytale, and love during adolescence is like early motherhood, which leads to a different life reality. It 'brings your feet back on the ground,' as they say. It is therefore no longer a fairytale, but an account of a life that is beginning." With Carla Besnaïnou (Anastasia), Kérian Mayan (Peter), Julia Artamonov (Anastasia at age 16), and David Chausse (Johan)."
Hong Sang-soo's Oki's Movie. The festival: "The story, which renews Hong's obsession with complex narrative plots, is divided into four chapters, A Day for Chanting (Jumuneul oeul nal), King of Kiss (Kiseu wang), After the Snowstorm (Pokseol hu) and Oki's Movie (Ok-hui-ui yeonghwa). A young filmmaker, his old professor of cinema, and the beautiful Oki, caught between the two men, are the protagonists of this story developing between present and past, reality and cinematic fiction. Played by Lee Sun-kyun (Jin-gu), Jung Yu-mi (Ok-hui) and Moon Sung-keun (Prof Song)."
John Akomfrah's The Nine Muses. The festival describes the documentary as "a representation of the memory of England's migrant workers." Update, 8/1: Based on footage filmed between 1951 and 1981.
Noel Burch and Allan Sekula's The Forgotten Space. From Doc.Eye Film: "[P]hotographer, filmmaker and writer Allan Sekula, sets off with French director and film historian Noël Burch to explore the sea: the 'forgotten space of our modern times where globalization becomes visible in the most pressing way.'" Update, 8/1: Site.
Amit Dutta's Nainsukh. A biopic of 18th-century Indian painter Nainsukh of Guler.
Lluis Galter's Caracremada. From Catalan Films & TV: "Caracremada attempts to reflect about the libertarian resistance to Franco’s regime through the last active guerrilla fighter, Ramon Vila. In 1951 the CNT ordered the retreat of its militants; however Ramon remained in the woods of the inner land of Catalunya where he restarted the fight operating on his own."
Giuseppe Gaudino and Isabella Sandri's Per questi stretti morire (ovvero cartografia di una passione). Update, 8/1: From Wikipedia: "Father Alberto María De Agostini (2 November 1883 – 25 December 1960) born in Pollone, Piedmont was an Italian missionary of the Salesians of Don Bosco order as well as a passionate mountaineer, explorer, geographer, ethnographer, photographer and cinematographer." According to MYmovies, the filmmakers use animation to mingle past and present, documentary and poetry.
José Luis Guerín's Guest. A documentary about the director's travels to film festivals around the world.
Laura Amelia Guzmán and Isreal Cárdenas's Jean Gentil. From the Hubert Bals Fund: "The film follows a Haitian professor on a quest for work in a Dominican town. When he does not find any, he leaves for the countryside armed with his faith."
Huang Wenhai's Reconstructing Faith. Update, 8/1: The film "documents with tenderness, excitement and hope as a Buddhist community try to invent other social relations and modes of organization, beginning with taking care of the weak, the sick and the indifference of those who disappeared," according to MYmovies. Also screening will be the 13-minute Crust, documenting "the harsh conditions of a shipyard where ships are built for Germany."
Patrick Keiller's Robinson in Ruins. Documentary narrated by Vanessa Redgrave. Update, 8/1: Michael Blackburn points to a sort of statement of intention from The Future of Landscape and the Moving Image in 2008: "It is the document of a journey made in southern England during 2008, supposedly by a fictional character, Robinson, who featured in two films made by Keiller in the 1990s [London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997)]. In addition to the film, Patrick Wright is completing a monograph, a critique of past and present ideas of deep settlement and their engagement with landscape, and Doreen Massey is writing an essay to accompany the film, in which she will explore the nature of place, arguing for an understanding of place as event, and examine the idea that making a film can constitute a method with which to research spatial and other, related subjects."
Mustafa Hasnaoui and Marianne Khoury's Zelal. Update, 8/1: Movieplayer.it suggests that this is a documentary about the mentally unstable in Cairo.
Kim Gok and Kim Sun's Anti Gas Skin. Update, 8/1: Rephrasing a Google translation of a text found on micropsia: "Satirical, surreal and fantastic, a fresco of political and social unrest in Korea today." A serial murderer, a woman in a gas mask runs amok and four characters set out to track her down — on election day.
Paul Morrissey's News from Nowhere. Update, 8/1: Again, rephrasing a Google translation of a text found on micropsia: A clandestine Argentine in Montauk, the extreme eastern tip of Long Island, faces what remains of the American dream: consumerism and a moral vacuum, where anyone can be sold or left to die on a beach. The director of Flesh, Trash and Heat looks with astonished eyes a world he no longer recognizes. From the past emerges the disenchanted Warhol superstar Viva, who now paints and discusses plastic surgery.
João Nicolau's A Espada e a Rosa (The Sword and the Rose). Update, 8/1: Google/micropsia: "A great sea adventure film, a surprising comedy of the absurd." Set in the 15th century. Manuel departs Lisbon on a ship where "terrible events" occur that he "tries to overcome without compromising [his] moral principles."
FJ Ossang's Dharma Guns. Update, 8/1: Google/micropsia: "Waking up from a coma after a water skiing accident in which his girlfriend, Delie, was killed, Stan van der Deckeni learns that [he is?] the heir to the mysterious Professor Starkov. [He then] embarks to the country of Las Estrellas, where he [is] welcomed by Jon, a supposed childhood friend, and Dr Lisandro Ewers. Professor Starkov, [who] could be the father of Delie, has developed a procedure called 'double gene.' [Have] Delie and Stan have been the guinea pigs [in a] strange experiment of the brilliant pharmacologist?"
Nicolas Pereda's Verano de Goliat. Synopsis in French. Update, 8/1: Google: "Summer of Goliath is a hybrid between documentary and fiction interweaving stories of different people Huilopec, a town in rural Mexico. Teresa's husband has disappeared and she believes he [has] left her for another. His son, Gabino, soldier returns home for an indefinite period. Amalio, Nico and Oscar are three brothers... we discover [their?] history through interviews and reenactments. Their father left long ago and their mother can barely meet their needs. Oscar has been nicknamed Goliath after the mysterious death of his girlfriend. Clementina, a teenager, left home because she is pregnant. She lives with her boyfriend, also a teenager. His father, Cuco, insists she return but she refuses. In an interview, she mentions that a few years earlier, she was an extra in a movie where Gabino took the leading role. Later, we return to a scene of this film with Gabino in the same role and Clementine, who plays opposite him this time. Teresa finds herself alone in the forest, in tears, lamenting [her] fate."
Gianfranco Rosi's El Sicario Room 164. Synopsis: "In a hotel room on the Mexican-American border sits a sicario, his face shrouded in a black veil. A sicario is a professional killer. This individual grew up in poverty and has kidnapped, tortured and murdered for both drug traffickers and governments. Today he relates his twenty years of activity. This movie is a confession based on the article written by Charles Bowden for Harper's Magazine in 2009 entitled 'The Sicario.'"
Maher Abi Samra's When We Were Communists. Addresses Lebanese radicalism. Update, 8/1: Google/micropsia: "A filmmaker returns to Beirut. We found his old comrades... ex-militants of the Lebanese Communist Party. The Civil War, Reconstruction, the eradication... today... [of] belief and commitment. Memory (stories, rebuilt, staged with extreme care) as a cure against the fragmentation in religious communities in conflict and the threat of fundamentalism."
Pasquale Scimeca's Malavoglia. Google isn't helping here. "The story is ancient, Sicily is contemporary" is about all that really makes sense. Evidently the story of a fishing family.
Sion Sono's Cold Fish. Jason Gray tells us that this is "the story of a tropical fish seller named Shamoto (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) who becomes an accomplice to a string of grisly homicides committed by a fellow seller (Denden) and his wife after they hold Shamoto's daughter hostage. Promoted as an unflinching portrait of violence and madness, the story is partially based on a true case."
VENICE - ORIZZONTI - OUT OF COMPETITON
Douglas Gordon's K.364 A Journey by Train. Update, 8/1: A portrait of Polish-Jewish musicians Avri Levitan and Roi Shiloach as they travel from Berlin to Poznan, where an old synagogue has been turned into a swimming pool. The trip ends in Warsaw, to the performance of Sinfonia Concertante K. 364 by Mozart, performed by Levitan and Shiloach with the Polish National Chamber Orchestra.
Ken Jacobs's A Loft.
Isaac Julien's The Leopard. He's talked a lot about Visconti's The Leopard in the past; whether this film has anything to do with it, I simply cannot tell.
Carlo Liberatore, Matteo Di Bernardino, Antonio Iacobone, Stefano Ianni and Marco Castellani's Un anno dopo — Progetto Memory Hunters. An omnibus film marking the first anniversary of the earthquake that struck L'Aquila.
VENICE - ORIZZONTI - SHORTS
Updates, 8/1, working mostly with the Google/micropsia combo:
Doug Aitken's House. "A typical middle-class house on the outskirts of an American city [you might] well knock down meekly [with] a mechanical arm, while inside, a middle-aged couple (the owners, the ghosts?), [sit] impassively, absorbed in memories of life that has passed between those fragile walls."
Victor Alimpiev's Slabyj Rot Front (Weak Rot Front). "A blank space and is home to a dozen unadorned bodies moving in obedience to a common logic that defies every rule. Faces, hands, arms, legs, speak a new language. The performers on stage, touching, touching, constantly rearranging in new figures seem to [be] members of a utopian community in which the body needs and reinvents their symptoms. We hear only noise minimum of contact between bodies, gestures while suspended are staged by a montage so implacable as that of a hyperkinetic action film."
Yuri Ancarani's Il Capo. "The laborious construction of a sensitive mutual trust has allowed the Italian artist Yuri Ancarani to film the work of the quarrymen from Carrara marble Apennines. The landscape and the shape of the mountain is transformed before our eyes, the result of a harmonious choreography between the mysterious coded gestures and movements of the quarry of heavy machinery at his command, assault rock."
Mauro Andrizzi's En el futuro. "An unclassifiable (fiction, documentary?) episodic film, fulminating and paradoxical moral tales on contemporary forms of eroticism and sexuality."
Martin Arnold's Shadow Cuts. "Mickey and Pluto in bed together. Sometimes in the dark. They laugh, obsessively."
Guillermo Arriaga's El Pozo. "The tragedies of a revolution (here, Mexico's in 1910) are not always a matter of great battles or movements of the crowd. Just one episode, one of those 'history' forgets [can] express the pain of a people, as seen in the stories of the greatest modern Mexican novelist Juan Rulfo."
Nuntanat Duangtisarn's Woman I. Inspired by Willem de Kooning's painting of the same name. Wise Kwai notes that the filmmaker is "is a young director of music videos, commercials and documentaries. He's trained at editor Lee Chatametikool's Houdini Studio."
FLATFORM's Non si può far nulla contro il vento. "A series of sequences of landscapes taken in an area of 60 [square] km, [a] mosaic of places and reference axes constantly changing and that do not exist in our surroundings. In this video bodies are near or far. Are large or small. The horizons are changing and no space is independent from the viewer. Incorporating only memory, the landscape is seen at different speeds and apply logic to physical vision."
Hund & Horn's Mouse Palace. "Imagine your life (couple, family) or your childhood. Remember the scene at home, when sometimes the [were] dishes flying. Remember the hardness and the drama of everyday life. Within minutes of great technical virtuosity, all that is embodied by families of real mice in a microscopic (and edible) apartment. Invade, we clash, love, sleep, and of course destroy it."
Chaisiri Jiwarangsan's Nok Ka Mhin (Four Seasons). Wise Kwai: "[D]escribed as 'a portrait of a migrant construction worker on her days off. She goes to a waterfall to rest and let her mind drift.' It also portrays 'a construction site at night with illuminating lights from the heavy machinery.'"
Isaac Julien's Better Life. "The starting point is the tragedy of Morecambe Bay: In 2004, 23 Chinese shellfish pickers drowned, caught by the tide.... The final goal: a visual poem that weaves [the] past and present (including film: a clear challenge to Tsui Hark and Wong Kar-wai) of China. With [the] very special participation of Maggie Cheung.... [W]ith dialogues and texts written by the poet Wang Ping (and with the unique 'handwriting on sight' [of] Gong Fagen)."
Rustam Khamdamov's Brilianty (Diamonds). "A stolen diamond brooch, a love story between dancers and a magic radio. Diamonds brings to life the poetry of the silent film within a contemporary cinematic dream."
Korpys/Löffler's Atom. "In Germany, a group of environmentalists protest against nuclear waste. The police [keep] them under observation. [What does it mean to] 'see' such an event? Underground, invisible waste. On the surface, a ballet of institutional apparatuses and demonstrators. People exchange words, talk [to] the cops..."
Clara Law's Chi Di (Red Earth). "A manager comes to Hong Kong to meet a girl he met a month earlier. [He] searches in a hotel room, hoping to watch the sunset [of] which she had spoken. But for some strange reason, he can no longer recognize the face of the girl. From this moment onwards, a series of [very strange] events happen..."
Armin Linke and Francesco Mattuzzi's Future Archaeology. "Whatever the [outcome] of the conflict [in] the Palestinian territories, [we] must consider the possibility of a complete or partial evacuation of Israeli settlements and architecture. Areas that are or will be released in Palestine [from] Israeli presence represent a laboratory in which re-imagine planning functions and architecture, freed from the power and control that have characterized [up to then]. Linke and Mattuzzi made a film in 3D, between politics and architecture, [on] the concept of 'decolonization,' exploring the territory and its culture, collecting cases and testimonies."
Bertrand Mandico's Lif og daudi Henry Darger (The Life and Death of Henry Darger). The artist wanders the streets of Iceland, wondering how long he has to live. A mysterious blue-skinned woman he meets on the road tells him, "We have two hours."
Jesse McLean's Magic for Beginners. "[M]ash-ups and video collage of heterogeneous materials, web, social networking and old VHS, are the basis of [this] production [by] the American video artist Jesse McLean. Accompanied by a selection of illuminating quotations on Warhol TV, film and media, this video, [like] his previous [work], centers on the confusing relationship between identity and post-reality, direct experience and mediated by our cultural consumption."
Galina Myznikova and Sergey Provorov's Voodushevlenie (Inspiration). Mysterious human figures, head down, are moving along the river. "The colors of their clothes are mixed with green and brown muddy water and mud. The gestures and choreography of their bodies and the elements of nature mark the slow passing of time. Powerful, disturbing and incomprehensible, with an extraordinary technical and formal care, the new video of the pair of Russian artists and Myznikova Provorov (together they [are known as] Provmyza) is a new chapter in their creation, a primitive apocalyptic dimension, in which humanity and its rituals seem to [appear] for the first time; Man and Nature and celebrate the ritual of their meeting."
Manoel de Oliveira's Painéis de Säo Vicente de Fora, Visäo Poética (The Panels of Säo Vicente de For a, A Poetic Vision). These panels are "attributed to the fourth century Portuguese painter Nuno Gonçalves [and depict] the major figures of Portuguese society of the time."
David OReilly's The External World. Digitally animated "funny, crazy and incorrect experimental comedy." "Everything starts with a clumsy child struggling with a relentless piano teacher, then the film in minutes frantically [rushes] through dozens of situations and contexts in which phenomenal characters (humans, animals, puppets, monsters and anything else) flock in a world where the absurd and the surreal reign. The film is inspired by a reflection on violence in the world of cartoons."
Laila Pakalnina's Pa Rubika Celu (On Rubiks' Road). A bicycle path connects Riga and Jurmala, Latvia. "The film focuses on the people who pass through this road, runners, cyclists, strollers, but also dogs, birds, trains passing nearby and planes crossing the sky."
Rafael Palacio Illingworth's Man in a Room. "Swift, ruthless and humorous chronicle of the day a man, locked in a room, struggles with desires, doubts, and unexpected admissions." Adapted from the work of Scottish comic artist and illustrator David Shrigley.
Arnaud des Pallières's Diane Wellington. An "American ballad" about the day Diane Wellington disappeared "and everyone in her town of Dakota, wondered where she had gone."
Jean-Gabriel Périot's Les Barbares (The Barbarians). A "a radically different look on the news of recent social and economic tensions. Composed entirely of photographs taken from [television, this] is a political fable about the end of the oligarchies and the urgency of change."
Sasha Pirker's The Future will not be capitalist. "Elegant and ironic portrait of the French Communist Party headquarters designed (for free, for friends) by the great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. [Footage] of the building, spaces and [the] few people today [who] visit them (the party has run out of money) are [intercut with] an interview with the manager of the building. Essay on the history and politics, modern film on the ability to query to know the real story."
Luiz Pretti's O mundo é belo. "A reflection on life and its slipperiness, but also a work that investigates the mysterious feeling that keeps clinging to life. A feeling that maybe you call love, or perhaps has no name, and that has its origin in the first, innocent touch that everyone has beauty, in any form."
Nicolas Provost's Stardust. "What's happening tonight in Las Vegas? What controls the casino dealer? ... Signs of an impending catastrophe imposed between the multicolored lights of the capital of gambling."
SJ Ramir's Cold Clay... Emptiness. "An electronic beat turns into a human heart, is of earth and a man walking. The grass is crooked, its color is on, the image fries. A figure reaches an isolated house and then makes you return. Conducted on the edge of the eye, everything is inscrutable."
Emily Richardson's The Futurist. "Filmed in a cinema built in the 20s, today, like so many others, at risk of closure and transformation, The Futurist is the first in a series of films with which the English artist Emily Richardson aims to celebrate the space and experience of traditional cinema. A simple (but deceptive) look explores the space of cinema, in a [work] that is right in the moment of its projection on the big screen..., turning the viewer into performer, reflecting the vision and background space."
Roee Rosen's Tse (Out). "Political and practical S&M: A movie arsonist, the unclassifiable Rosen combines two themes with seemingly nothing in common, culminating in a ritual designed to release a young artist from the spirit of Avigdor Lieberman, the ultra-conservative politician, Israeli Foreign Minister, the founder and leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, compared [in] the international press with Jörg Haider and Jean-Marie Le Pen.... With an unexpected and moving final musical."
Josh and Benny Safdie John's Gone. In his wrecked apartment, John hunts cockroaches, "expels clumsy thieves," argues "with his girlfriend and tries [to strike up] implausible relationships with strangers. A tragicomedy of New York clichés, told from a viewpoint like a wistful dream. Filmed with an old camera [once owned by] the father of the two directors-producers," John's Gone achieves a unique retro visual effect, "which contributes to the stratified time dimension that characterizes the work, in which e-commerce and computers appear in movie atmospheres typically ranging from New York No Wave 80s back to the beginning of Cassavetes."
SEMICONDUCTOR's Indefatigable. A product of the Gulbenkian Galapagos Artists' Residency Program, "the film shows a team that is dissecting what appears as a common shrub. The images linger on methods and techniques [are] used during this process. Halfway between documentary and [science fiction], this film is about man-made methods for reading and interpreting the world around him."
Sun Xun's 21 ke (21 G). "The story of a magician, the only profession in the world in which telling lies is not only permissible, but is part of the game." A "bold political allegory (animation under 60 minutes is not subjected to censorship in Beijing).... A man in search of value and meaning in life and systems of reference that [would enable] him to understand."
Elina Talvensaari's Miten marjoja poimitaan (How to Pick Berries). A "study of Finnish mentality and the absurdity of the global economy."
Oleg Tcherny's La linea generale. "A novel architectural profile of the city of Venice," gradually taking on a consistency of the "purely plastic and [becoming a] pictorial backdrop to the reading of a visionary text of Galileo Galilei, read by the voice of the philosopher Giorgio Agamben."
"Venice organisers have announced that Robert Rodriguez's Machete will have its world premiere as a midnight screening on September 1, the opening night of the festival — right after Darren Aronofsky's latest [Black Swan], in other words." Guy Lodge at In Contention: "Of course, the film opens Stateside only two days later, but it's a nice little launchpad all the same. Good for the festival, too, which appears to be balancing populist and arthouse concerns quite ably." And he's got Kris Tapley's report on Machete's gig at Comic-Con and the red-band trailer.
"A bevvy of notable directors, including John Sayles, Peter Mullan, Naomi Kawase and Raúl Ruiz, will screen their latest works at the 58th the San Sebastian International Film Festival (SSIFF), which runs September 17 - 25." Nigel M Smith: "Fresh off her milestone as the first woman to win the Special Jury Prize in Cannes in 2007 for The Mourning Forest, Japanese director Naomi Kawase will present Genpin. Kawase's drama follows an obstetrician who struggles with the relationship between childbirth and death." The official selection isn't quite complete yet, but Smith has the first round of eleven titles.
Also at indieWIRE, Emily Kaplan: "This years lineup for the 14th Annual LA Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) is set. From August 15th to 23rd LALIFF will screen 73 of the most recent works from some of the best established and emerging Latino filmmakers at the Chinese Mann theater in Hollywood, California."