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October 1, 2014
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Venice Film Fest mixes big names, auteurs

Willem Dafoe in a scene from Abel Ferrara’s highly-anticipated Pasolini.

Dafoe, Pacino, Hawke star in movies on topics from the financial crisis to drone warfare

ROME — This year’s Venice Film Festival will tackle topics from the financial crisis to drone warfare, and feature performances from Willem Dafoe, Al Pacino, Jennifer Aniston and Ethan Hawke.

Organizers yesterday announced a 20-strong competition line-up that includes Iranian-American director Ramin Bahrani’s subprime-mortgage drama 99 Homes, with Andrew Garfield and Laura Dern, and New Zealand-born filmmaker Andrew Niccol’s The Good Kill, starring Hawke as a dissatisfied drone operator.

There is a strong American presence, both behind the camera and onscreen, among the films in the running for the Golden Lion. They include David Gordon Green’s Texan drama Manglehorn starring Pacino and Holly Hunter; Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini, featuring Dafoe as taboo-breaking Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini; and Italian director Saverio Costanzo’s Hungry Hearts, a suspenseful drama set in New York starring Adam Driver.

The festival, which mixes big-name directors and arty auteurs with the work of exciting newcomers, also includes The Cut, a drama by Turkish-German director Fatih Akin starring Tahar Rahim; Swedish director Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence; and The Postman’s White Knights by Russia’s Andrei Konchalovsky.

Documentary-maker Joshua Oppenheimer competes with The Look of Silence, a sequel to his powerful investigation of Indonesian political violence, The Act of Killing.

Films from France, Italy, China, Japan, Turkey and Iran round out the competition line-up.

Pacino appears again at the festival, as an aging actor in Barry Levinson’s The Humbling, adapted from a Philip Roth novel. It is among the “out of competition” entries which are not contestants for the Golden Lion.

The eclectic out-of-competition roster also includes Peter Bogdanovich’s Broadway comedy She’s Funny That Way, starring Imogen Poots, Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson; Lisa Cholodenko’s Maine-set drama Olive Kitteridge, with Frances McDormand and Bill Murray; actor-turned-director James Franco’s adaptation of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury; and Danish provocateur Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac Volume II.

The 71st Venice Film Festival opens on August 27 with the world premiere of Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, starring former Batman Michael Keaton as an actor struggling to get beyond a famous superhero role.

The festival runs to September 6, when a jury led by composer Alexandre Desplat awards the Golden Lion for best film and seven other prizes.

Herald with AP

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