As expected, the official line-up of films for the 2019 Venice International Film Festival will include Todd Phillips‘ take on the Joker mythology, James Gray‘s star-studded Ad Astra, and the latest pic from the problematic Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski. The official selections for competition include films from all over the world in a fairly diverse array of international voices, but the film festival has a long way to go to improve its gender disparity. Of the 21 films vying for the top prize, only two come from female directors: Haifaa Al Mansour, the first female director in Saudi Arabia whose 2012 film Wadjda was nominated for a BAFTA, and Shannon Murphy, a newcomer to the film circuit who makes her feature directorial debut with Babyteeth.
Interestingly enough, the Venice Film Festival usually throws the animation industry a few bones by including a feature or two in the line-up somewhere, but this year will see one of them in actual, honest-to-goodness competition. Chinese director Yonfan movies into animation with Ji Yuan Tai Qi Hao (No. 7 Cherry Lane) in a story that follows an English literature student living in 1960s Hong Kong who gets caught up in a love triangle with the woman he is tutoring as well as her mother. In an interview with Variety, the filmmaker said of the medium:
“Strangely enough, I found it’s easier to deliver what I want to say in an animation. Drawings and paintings can give you more imagination than the real photos. The Mona Lisa still sits in the Louvre and can touch the heart of millions. That is what a good painting can do. In ‘No. 7 Cherry Lane,’ we have thousands of wonderful moments in images, each fully capable of conveying powerful emotion. The love scenes in ‘Cherry Lane’ can be much more evocative than any painting by Andy Warhol.”
Here’s a look at the films in competition for the 76th Venice Film Festival:
The Perfect Candidate – Directed by Haifaa Al Mansour and starring Mila Alzahrani, Dhay, Nourah Al Awad, and Khalid Abdulrhim
Om det oändliga (About Endlessness) – Directed by Roy Andersson and starring Jane-Ege Ferling, Martin Serner, Bengt Bergius, Tatiana Delaunay, Anders Hellström, and Thore Flygel
Wasp Network – Directed by Olivier Assayas and starring Penélope Cruz, Ana de Armas, Edgar Ramírez, Wagner Moura, Gael García Bernal, and Leonardo Sbaraglia
Marriage Story – Directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, and Julie Hagerty
Guest of Honour – Directed by Atom Egoyan and starring David Thewlis, Laysla De Oliveira, Luke Wilson, and Rossif Sutherland
Ad Astra – Directed by James Gray and starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland
A Herdade – Directed by Tiago Guedes and starring Albano Jerónimo, Sandra Faleiro, Miguel Borges, Ana Vilela da Costa, João Vicente, and João Pedro Mamede
Gloria Mundi – Directed by Robert Guédiguian and starring Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Gérard Meylan, Anaïs Demoustier, Robinson Stévenin, and Lola Naymark
Waiting for the Barbarians – Directed by Ciro Guerra and starring Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson, Gana Bayarsaikhan, and Greta Scacchi
La vérité (The Truth) – Directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu and starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Clementine Grenier, and Ludivine Sagnier
Ema – Directed by Pablo Larraín and starring Mariana Di Girolamo and Gael García Bernal
Lan xin da ju yuan (Saturday Fiction) – Directed by Ye Lou and starring Gong Li, Mark Chao, Joe Odagiri, Pascal Greggory, Tom Wlaschiha, and Huang Xiangli
Martin Eden – Directed by Pietro Marcello and starring Luca Marinelli, Jessica Cressy, Denise Sardisco, Vincenzo Nemolato, Marco Leonardi, and Autilia Ranieri
The Painted Bird – Directed by Václav Marhoul and starring Petr Kotlár, Udo Kier, Lech Dyblik, Jitka Čvančarová, Stellan Skarsgård, Harvey Keitel, andJulian Sands
Il sindaco del Rione Sanità (The Mayor of Rione Sanità) – Directed by Mario Martone and starring Francesco Di Leva, Massimiliano Gallo, Roberto De Francesco, Adriano Pantaleo, Daniela Ioia, and Giuseppe Gaudino
Babyteeth – Directed by Shannon Murphy and starring Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Essie Davis, and Ben Mendelsohn
Joker – Directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro
J’Accuse – Directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jean Dujardin, Louis Garrel, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Grégory Gadebois
The Laundromat – Directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, Matthias Schoenaerts, James Cromwell, and Sharon Stone
Ji Yuan Tai Qi Hao (No. 7 Cherry Lane) (Animation) – Directed by Yonfan and featuring voice performances spoken by Sylvia Chang, Zhao Wei, Alex Lam, and Kelly Yao
The Venice Film Festival runs from August 28th through September 7th.
The 76th Venice International Film Festival is organised by La Biennale di Venezia, and will take place at Venice Lido from August 28th to September 7th, 2019. The Festival is officially recognised by the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Association).
The aim of the Festival is to raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue. The Festival also organises retrospectives and tributes to major figures as a contribution towards a better understanding of the history of cinema.