La Presse at the 79th Venice Film Festival | An excellent track record so far

While the 79e Mostra of Venice begins its last straight line, an observation is essential: the cinema is doing well. It is not yet possible to predict who will win the Golden Lion, but the jury, chaired by Julianne Moore, will certainly be spoiled for choice, no matter which direction it takes.

Posted at 6:00 p.m.

Sixteen of the twenty-three feature films in the running for the Golden Lion have now been screened. Several very strong film proposals have so far been offered to festival-goers, thus sending the message of vigorous creative health, despite all the transformations that the 7e broadcast art.

Let them be explosive (Athenaby Romain Gavras) or more directly focused on the intimate (Other people’s childrenby Rebecca Zlotowski), that they take on a more cheerful tone (The Banshees of Inisherinby Martin McDonagh) or more dramatic (TARby Todd Field), whether they are downright political (Argentina, 1985by Santiago Mitre) or more austere in terms of staging (A coupleby Frederick Wiseman), none of the works selected in the official competition brings dishonor.

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Noémie Merlant, Sophie Kauer, Nina Hoss, Cate Blanchett and Todd Field offer a dramatic work with TAR.

Blonde hair (Andrew Dominick) Saint-Omer (Alice Diop) and The Son (Florian Zeller) are among the films whose presentation will take place over the next few days, without forgetting Khers Nist (No Bears), the film that Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was able to shoot before being again thrown into prison in Tehran to serve a six-year sentence.

The Calendar Advantage

Clearly taking advantage of the position of the Mostra in the calendar, Alberto Barbera, the artistic director, can thus build a selection as enticing as that of the Cannes Film Festival, without the constraint that his French counterpart, Thierry Frémaux, has of having to dismiss works produced by online broadcasters.

It now remains to be seen which direction the jury will take. In recent years, there has been a tendency to celebrate in Venice productions with a more popular vocation as much as more cutting-edge auteur films. Since 2008, five American feature films have won the supreme award: The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky) in 2008, Somewhere (Sofia Coppola) in 2010, The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro) in 2017, Joker (Todd Phillips) in 2019, and nomadland (Chloé Zhao) in 2020. Last year, The eventby Audrey Diwan, received the Golden Lion, one of the three most prestigious prizes in the world of festivals along with the Palme d’Or (Cannes) and the Golden Bear (Berlin).

It will also be interesting to see how cultural sensitivities play out. There is indeed a significant gap between the moods of the Italian press and those of the international press, somewhat in the same way as it manifests itself in Cannes between the French press and that of the world. Which side will Julianne Moore, president of the jury this year, stand on? Answer Saturday.

Christoph Waltz and Willem Dafoe, rivals in Dead for a Dollar

Presented Tuesday out of competition, Dead for a Dollar will certainly delight fans of westerns, especially since there are terrific performances by Christoph Waltz and Willem Dafoe, not to mention that of Rachel Brosnahan, who portrays a strong female character. Written and directed by Walter Hill, to whom the festival presented the Glory to the Filmmaker 2022 Award, this western chronicles the journey of a bounty hunter (Waltz) from New Mexico, hired by a jealous husband to find his wife ( Brosnahan) having fled the marital home. Set in 1897, the story also relies on the meeting between a professional player (Dafoe) and the one because of whom he ended up in prison.

Beyond the visual aspect, splendid, Dead for a Dollar stands out thanks to this way of integrating modernity into a classic genre.

“It was a desire to echo the affirmation of women in our society, while promoting the traditional aspect of the western, declared Walter Hill at a press conference. It may seem contradictory, but hey, let’s try our luck! »

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Willem Dafoe and Christoph Waltz in Venice.

The Italian journalists present at this conference also wanted to know to what extent Sergio Leone had been an influence in the career of a filmmaker whose dramatic construction practically all of his films take the form of a western.

“Obviously, Sergio Leone occupies an extremely important place in the history of cinema. There are filmmakers like him, John Ford, Akira Kurosawa and a few others, whose works are so present in the collective unconscious that they now belong to the world. When you make films, it’s impossible to completely separate yourself from what has been done before and that’s why we always say that such a filmmaker is influenced by another filmmaker, from a previous generation. It’s normal to be the sum of everything we’ve seen, everything we’ve loved. In fact, we are all interconnected. »

Dead for a Dollar hits theaters in Quebec on September 30.

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La Presse at the 79th Venice Film Festival | An excellent track record so far