Some of the most anticipated movies of the Fall will make their debut at the four major festivals that annual suck up the movie world's attention during a five-week period beginning in September. The New York Film Festival has already revealed that “The Walk,” “Steve Jobs” and “Miles Away” will be its major galas. The 40th Toronto International Film Festival announced its initial wave of selections on Tuesday giving away many of the “secret” premieres at the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day weekend. Earlier this month Venice announced it would open with Universal Pictures' “Everest” and debut Scott Cooper's “Black Mass” with Johnny Depp out of competition. Now, the festival has unveiled a majority of its slate with some very exciting surprises.
The biggest news is that Tom Hooper's “The Danish Girl” will have its world premiere in Venice. The highly anticipated drama has already generated tremendous buzz for Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne and “Ex Machina” star Alicia Vikander. The Focus Features release is inspired by the true story of Lili Elbe, the first known person to attempt male to female sex reassignment surgery.
Luca Guadagnino's “A Bigger Splash,” with Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes, was rumored not to be ready for Venice, but the Italian filmmaker will return to Venice after making a splash with the acclaimed “I Am Love” in 2009. Fox Searchlight is expected to release “Splash” later this year.
Drake Doremus' “Equals,” with Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, will finally be screened after finishing production last summer. Dormeus' won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance in 2011 for “Like Crazy,” but stumbled with his follow up, “Breathe In.” Considering Stewart is coming off an incredible trifecta of performances that led to first American actress to win a Cesar last year, there will be even more media attention on this film than you'd expect (if that's possible).
Atom Egoyan's “Remember,” which will also play Toronto, features Christopher Plummer and Martin Landeau. Movie fans are hoping its a long awaited return to form for Egoyan after the ludicrous “The Captive” earned booes at Cannes a little over a year ago.
Australian filmmaker Sue Brooks returns with her first film in six years, “Looking for Grace.” The Richard Roxburgh and Radha Mitchell drama is a surprise entry in the competition.
Cary Fukunaga's “Beasts of No Nation” will also debut at Venice. The filmmaker's first movie since winning an Emmy Award for directing the first season of “True Detective,” “Nation” is expected to eventually screen at Telluride and is also set for Toronto.
Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's highly anticipated “Anomalisa” features Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Thewlis and Tom Noonan. It will eventually make its way to the Great White North as it searches for distribution.
Other films on the Venice docket include Piero Messina's “L'attesa” with Juliette Binoche, Jerzy Skolimowski's “11 Minutes,” Aleksandr Sukorov's “Francofonia,” Pablo Trapero's “El Clan,” Lorenzo Vigas' “Desde alla,” Christian Vincent's “Lhermine,” Zhao Liang's documentary “Behemoth,” Giuseppe M. Gaudino's “Per Amor Vostro,” Xavier Giannoli's “Marguerite,” Amos Gitai's “Rabin, the Last Day,” Oliver Hermanus' “The Endless River,” Emin Alper's “Frenzy” and Marco Bellocchio's “Sangue del mio sangue.”
The most shocking announcement was the inclusion of Laurie Anderson's “Heart of a Dog.” The accomplished performance artist and filmmaker has not appeared on screen since 2005's short film “Hidden Inside Mountains.” The news that Anderson is not only screening at Venice, but in competition is something that will have the art film community exploding with excitement.
There are also some noteworthy titles premiering out of competition including Daniel Alfredson's “Go With Me” starring Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles and Ray Liotta; the little known Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow documentary “De Palma”; Amy Berg's long awaited doc “Janis”; Thomas McCarthy's “Spotlight” (also at Toronto); and Martin Scorsese's 16 minute long “The Audition” featuring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Scorsese himself.
The one major film missing from the Venice announcements? “Steve Jobs.” Danny Boyle's biopic of the life of the iconic Apple co-founder is already set for a centerpiece at the New York Film Festival, but wasn't classified as a premiere. It's hard to imagine it being added to the Venice slate out of competition which means a Telluride world premiere and then, possibly, Toronto screening are in the cards.
The 2015 Venice Film Festival will run from Sept. 2 through 12. HitFix will endeavor to cover all the breaking reactions from this side of the Atlantic.
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