George Clooney and Sandra Bullock arrived in Venice to promote the out of competition opening film “Gravity” (3D) at the 70th Venice Film Festival on August 28. The film will be released in San Francisco on Oct 4. “Gravity” (USA, 91′) directed by Alfonso Cuarón was well received by the critics and rocketed the festival off to a smashing start. The festival runs from Aug 28 to Sept 7.
Cuaron’s new feature is set in outer space. Matt Kowalsky (Clooney), a seasoned astronaut, is leading his final mission and Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock), is a medical engineer on her first. On what appears to be a routine spacewalk, their shuttle is destroyed and Stone and Kowalsky find themselves tethered to each other in outer space with no contact with Earth. They are stranded 375 miles above their home planet and seek refuge in an abandoned spacecraft.
Sandra Bullock at the official press conference commented on her role. She revealed that “physically and emotionally it was the most bizarre thing”. Knowing dance helped her because portraying a weightless astronaut was challenging and she is used to moving. “You have to figure it out”, she said to the press, “or else you destroy a beautiful movie”. The role required that she was confined and often had no contact with humans, and that “even hearing someone’s breath” was comforting, something she said “we take for granted”. (Watch trailer).
A selection of short films was also presented on opening day – “VENEZIA 70 – FUTURE RELOADED” (70 Short Films – 70 Directors, 120’).
Two films from the alternative section GIORNATE DEGLI AUTORI (Venice Days) had their world premieres:
“LA BELLE VIE”by Jean Denizot (France, 93’) stars Nicolas Bouchaud, Zacharie Chasseriaud, Jules Pélissier Jean-Philippe Ecoffey, Maya Sansa, and Solène Rigot.
Sylvain and Pierre are on the run with their father Yves after their mother wins a custody battle. On an island in the Loire River, Sylvain meets Gilda – his ﬁrst girlfriend and taste of “the good life” – “La belle vie”. The film is loosely based on the Xavier Fortin case (source in French) where a man kidnapped his two children and raised them in hiding in the French countryside for over ten years.
“GERONTOPHILIA” by veteran director Bruce LaBruce (Canada, 85’) stars Walter Borden, Pier-Gabriel Lajoie, Katie Boland, and Marie-Hélène Thibault. (Trailer)
An 18-year-old with an activist girlfriend discovers he is interested in working with the elderly. Lake finds a summer job at a nursing home and develops an endearing relationship with Mr. Peabody.
Two films were shown in the Orrizonti (Horizons) section:
“WOLFSKINDER (WOLFSCHILDREN)” by Rick Ostermann (Germany, 91’) is set in Eastern Prussia during World War II. Several German orphans called the “wolf children” have gone into hiding from the Soviet Red Army occupiers and live in abandoned sites trying to survive.
“JIGOKU DE NAZE WARUI (WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL?)” by Sono Sion (Japan, 126’) is about a gangster who wants to make his daughter’s dream come true of acting act in a movie. It turns out to be on the scale of Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” involving two rival gangs. Sono Sion is a Japanese director, poet and composer who wrote the film when he was 15.
There are several sections to the Venice Film Festival: the official competition, out of competition films by directors whose work has been screened at previous festivals, the Orrizonti (horizons) section of new groundbreaking cinema, and Venice Classics, restored documentaries and features. There are also two parallel divisions entitled Venice Days (mentioned above) modeled after the Cannes Director’ Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs), and the Venice International Film Critics Week of National Union of Italian Film Critics.
Here is the official lineup brochure showing the schedule, day by day.
Cineastes around the world can take advantage of several Orrizonti (Horizon) screenings and selections from the Biennale College on Web Cinema this year.