80th Venice Film Festival: What to expect!

Cinephiles and fashion lovers, rejoice! That time of the year is almost here and in a couple days the 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival will officially start. And if you’re feeling a bit confused about all the movies and the celebrities that will be, fear not! This little guide is here to tell you everything you need to know!

This year it’s more important than ever to be prepared because after the latest events in the movie sector, the Biennale of Venezia really had to face some challenges in organising the Festival and the situation is still uncertain. In Hollywood, writers and actors are still on strike against the studios and they’re far from an agreement. This means that until further notice, all actors that are part of SAG-AFRTA (the American Guild of Actors) can’t promote their movies in any way. No press, no red carpet.

(From the website of Biennale Cinema 2023)

Therefore, many celebrities might ditch the Festival and this is also the reason why Challengers by Luca Guadagnino, eagerly awaited after last year divisive Bones and all, is no longer opening the festival (rightfully, you do not waste THE Zendaya like that).

Despite this, however, the selection of movies this year is still impressive, with many big names both italian and international. So don’t worry, you’ll not be disappointed! But let’s get into it.

The Festival lasts from August 30th to September 9th, ten days during which different categories will be presented, the most important being the one competing for the Leone D’Oro.

Out of that, other movies are presented in categories like out of competition, Orizzonti and Orizzonti Extra.

In competition for the Leone d’Oro

After the delay of Challengers, the honor of opening the event on August 30th has been given to Comandante by Edoardo De Angelis, with beloved actor Pierfrancesco Favino playing World War II hero Salvatore Todaro.

The following day will see the premiere of El Conde, by Pablo Larraín (best known for Spencer), an horror satire on chilean dictator August Pinochet, Ferrari by Michael Mann, with Penelope Cruz and Adam Driver and then Dogman by Luc Besson (word is the performance in this is worthy of the Leone d’Oro).

Then, from Hollywood with (really a lot) of expectations, four very big names will sign their comeback to Venice. I’m talking about the king of thriller, David Fincher, with his The Killer, starring Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton and Yorgos Lanthimos, in collaboration again with Emma Stone for Poor Things, possibly the most anticipated movie of this year: a Frankenstein-esque drama about a young woman (Stone) brought back to life by a scientist.

Closing the quartet we have Bradley Cooper with Maestro, on the life of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein and Sofia Coppola with Priscilla, from Priscilla Presley’s memoir, with Cailee Spaeny and fan-favourite Jacob Elordi.

While Cooper will miss the premiere (again, the strike), despite being both actor and director, Coppola and Priscilla have reportedly received the green light, since the company A24, that distributes the movie, has already reached an agreement with strikers.

Then, expectations are high also for Origin by Ava DuVernay, first Afro-American director in competition at Venice. For the joy of fashion lovers, that maybe are a bit disappointed by this supposedly meager red carpets, French diva and icon Lea Seydoux will shine for the premiere of La bête by Bertrand Bonello.

Shifting the focus back home, enjoyers of Italian cinema will be glad to know that this year Italy is deploying many interesting projects in the competition for the Golden Lion besides the aforementioned Comandante, with many internationally famous and beloved actors. We’ll find Io capitano (Matteo Garrone), Finalmente l’alba (Saverio Costanzo), Adagio (Saverio Sollima) and finally Enea (Pietro Castellitto), starring Italian sweetheart Benedetta Porcaroli.

Completing the category are movies from all over the world we’ll have Bastarden (Nikolaj Arcel), Hors-Saison (Stéphane Brizé), Aku Wa Sonzai Shinai or Evil Does Not Exist (Ryüsuke Hamaguchi, already Oscar winner for Drive my car), Zielona Granica (Agniezska Holland), Kobieta Z… (Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert), Die Theorie Von Allem (Timm Kröger) and Holly (Fien Troch).

What else to look for?

A of other interesting events will take place during these days. Both Luca Guadagnino and Wes Anderson are scheduled to receive an award and Anderson will also present his short movie The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Another big name in the field, that has given rise to more than one debate, is that of Woody Allen: with the public divided between those who love his work and those who instead despise him for his… let’s say controversial personal life, he will present his Coup the Chance, out of competition.

But Woody, you’ve been very lucky, because this year bringing home the prize for Most Criticized Director in Venice (may I add, rightfully so?) is Roman Polanski. The infamous director, with his name still in the international wanted list of the Interpol, will present at the Festival his new black comedy The Palace, about the excess of the elite class during a New Year’s Eve dinner party.

What else to say? After all of this, we are really in for a ride!

by Martina Marrone