21 titles, incl. “Madres Paralelas” by Pedro Almodóvar, “The Hand of God” by Paola Sorrentino and “The Power of The Dog” by Jane Campion will compete for the Golden Lion at the 78th Venice Film Festival starting on Wednesday. Polish cinematography will be represented by Jan P. Matuszyński’s “Let there be no traces”.
This is the second year in a row that Polish production is launched in the main competition of the Venetian festival. Last year, the film “Snow Never Again” by Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert fought for the Golden Lion. An intriguing metaphysical story about a Ukrainian masseur visiting wealthy residents of a gated community, received mostly positive reviews and was favorably received by the audience. Ultimately, however, the jury appreciated the other paintings. This time, Jan P. Matuszyński, the creator of the award-winning “Last Family” (2016), has a chance to win the statuette.
Matuszyński’s new film, based on a report by Cezary Łazarewicz under the same title, is a story about the high school graduate Grzegorz Przemyk, son of the opposition poet Barbara Sadowska, who in May 1983 was badly beaten by police officers and died a few days later. The authorities of that time tried to hold ambulance paramedics responsible for the crime. To make this version credible, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party established a special team to clarify the matter. In fact, it dealt with surveillance, intimidation of paramedics and soliciting false statements. The film featured, among others Mateusz Górski (as Grzegorz Przemyk), Tomasz Ziętek, Sandra Korzeniak, Agnieszka Grochowska and Jacek Braciak. The author of the script is Kaja Krawczyk-Wnuk. Kacper Fertacz is responsible for the photos.
On Wednesday, the festival will officially inaugurate the show of Pedro Almodóvar’s “Madres Paralelas”. The protagonists of the latest work by the author of “Pain and Glow” are two single women – a middle-aged woman and a teenager – who had unplanned pregnancies. The former is delighted with the prospect of motherhood, the latter is overwhelmed with fear. Thanks to an honest conversation in a hospital room, a very close bond is born between the women. “I am extremely grateful to Pedro Almodóvar for giving us the privilege of opening the festival with his new film – a full of intensity and sensitivity portrayal of two women struggling with the unforeseen consequences of pregnancy and experiencing female solidarity. It is a welcome return to the main competition of our Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. works from 2019 ” – said the festival director Alberto Barbera in July.
In addition to “Let there be no traces” and “Madres Paralelas”, 19 films are aspiring to the Golden Lion this year. One of the most anticipated is “The Hand of God” by Paola Sorrentino. It is a story based on the director’s memories of a boy growing up in Naples in the 1980s, whose life is changed by a meeting with the football legend Diego Maradona. The Argentine star was then playing for the local SC Napoli, leading the team to the club’s first ever Italian championship. The competition will also include other titles inspired by real characters and events. These include “Spencer” by Pablo Larrain with Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, “On The Job: The Missing 8” by Erik Matti about the Filipino journalist Sisoy Salas, a staunch defender of the government, and “Qui Rido Io” by Maria Martiego, in which the outstanding Italian actor Toni Servillo played the actor and playwright Eduard Scarpetta.
Among the film adaptations of literary works, presented in the most important section, there are “The Power of The Dog” by Jane Campion, a story based on the prose of Thomas Savage, about a charismatic farmer who inspires fear and admiration, and deals with the confrontation with the past and the hardships of motherhood “The Lost Daughter” – actress Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, based on the book by Elena Ferrante. Xavier Giannoli, on the other hand, brought the novel by Honorius Balzac to the big screen. The main character of his “Illusions Perdues” is a nineteenth-century young poet who leaves his native province and decides to look for happiness in Paris.
The audience’s attention is also directed to new productions by Michael Franco, Paul Schrader, as well as the brothers Fabia and Damian D’Innocenzo. The creator of “New Order” visits Venice this time with the family drama “Sundown”, in which they starred, among others Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg. The script writer of “Taxi Driver” made a story about a former military investigator caught in the clutches of gambling. In turn, the Italian duo in America Latina presents a hero who has to rethink his life so far.
Another competitor for the Golden Lion is Gabriel Mainetti’s “Freaks Out”, “L’Evenement” by Audrey Diwan, which takes place in the 1960s in France, about a student wishing to terminate her pregnancy, and referring to the historic discovery of the abyss in the Pollino caves “Il Buco” by Michelangelo Frammartino. The list of nominated titles for the statuette is completed by: “Un autre monde” by Stephane Brize, “La Caja” by Lorenz Vigas, “Reflection” by Walentyna Wasjanowycz, “Competencia Oficial” by Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn, as well as “Mona Lisa And The Blood Moon “Any Lily Amirpour. The last film was shot by Paweł Pogorzelski.
The winners of the main competition will be selected by a jury composed of: Oscar winner for the best film of 2019 (“Parasite”), South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (chairman), winner of the same award this year, Chinese director and screenwriter Chloe Zhao, whose “Nomadland “Honored with the Golden Lion at the previous edition of the festival, Belgian-French actress Virginie Efira, Italian director and screenwriter Saverio Costanzo, British actress Cynthia Erivo, Canadian actress and producer Sarah Gadon and Romanian director Alexander Nanau.
Outside the competition, the following will be shown, among others a documentary about the life of the famous Italian composer Ennio Morricone “Ennio” Giuseppe Tornatore and a film portrait of one of the most important rock bands in the world, “Becoming Led Zeppelin” by Bernard MacMahon. In the Orizzonti section, you will be able to watch “The Rhino” by Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian director arrested in 2014 in the Russian-occupied Crimea on the charge of planning terrorist activities and released during a prisoner exchange in 2019. The latest film by the creator of “Numbers” is a criminal drama a story about a young man overwhelmed by an inner burden. The Polish co-producer of the film is Apple Film Production.
During the Golden Lion festival, lifetime achievement will be awarded to Italian director and actor Roberto Benigni and American actress Jamie Lee Curtis. As Barbera emphasized, Benigni “is a point of reference in the world of Italian art, an unprecedented figure and unparalleled”. Winner of the 1999 Oscar for the leading role in “Life is Beautiful”, which he also directed, has made a series of film creations to his credit also confirming his extraordinary comic talent. Lee Curtis, the daughter of legendary actor Tony Curtis and actress Janet Leigh, has starred in over 50 films including Charles Crichton’s “The Fish Called Wanda”, James Cameron’s “True Lies” and Rian Johnson’s “Knives.”
The festival will last until September 11 and will be held in the sanitary regime. In order to enter the festival site, you will need to present a vaccination certificate, a recovery certificate or a test result from the last 48 hours. Body temperature measurements will be taken at each entrance. Mobile laboratories where the COVID-19 test can be performed will be located near the Festival Palace. There will be masks and social distance in the buildings. Similarly to last year, an electronic screening system was introduced to avoid queues.