ROME: US cult director Terrence Malick will premiere his “To the Wonder” at a crisis-themed Venice film festival, alongside new talent from Guatemala, Nepal and Saudi Arabia. Hollywood hunk Affleck, who stars in Malick’s romantic drama, is expected on the red carpet of the world’s oldest film festival, along with stars including Javier Bardem and Kate Hudson.
“The main recurring theme is the crisis,” festival director Alberto Barbera told reporters in Rome, “the economic crisis, which is having devastating social effects, but also the crisis of values, the political crisis.
The 2012 edition of the festival on the shores of the watery city will also feature “Outrage Beyond,” the latest work by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, and “Pieta,” by South Korean director Kim Ki-duk.
A sequel to Kitano’s 2010 “Outrage,” “Outrage Beyond” sees Japanese criminal gangs clash as police try to outwit the gangsters. In “Pieta,” a loan shark’s world is turned upside down when he meets a woman claiming to be his mother.
The festival, which runs from Aug. 29 to Sep. 8, will feature 51 world premieres including Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep,” a thriller about a left-wing militant on the run from the FBI. Also showing for the first time are “Passion” by Brian De Palma and “Bad 25,” Spike Lee’s documentary about Michael Jackson.
Other offerings include “Shokuzai” [“Penance”], a horror epic by Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Originally shown as a television series, Barbera said it’s “absolutely extraordinary.”
The festival kicks off with a showing of U.S.-based Indian director Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” – a political thriller about a young Pakistani torn between Wall Street ambitions and the call of his homeland.
Italian Marco Bellocchio returns with “Dormant Beauty,” a film exploring euthanasia and life’s meaning.
Inspired by the true story of Eluana Englaro, a young Italian who lived 17 years in a vegetative state after a car accident, it follows the last six days of her life and her father’s fight to allow her to die naturally.
Barbera said the festival included several well-established directors but also aimed to showcase up-and-coming cinematographers to reflect what he called “a great productive ferment” in the industry despite the crisis.
“Wadjda” by Saudi director Haifaa al-Mansour tells the story of a little girl growing up in traditional society in the suburbs of Riyadh, desperate for the bicycle that she is denied.
“We have taken risks,” Barbera said. “There are many established directors but also less famous directors and many unknown young directors from countries without cinematic traditions and without real access to the market.
“Festivals should revert to their original roles of exploration, of scoping out innovation, instead of relying only on the established producers,” he continued. “A festival should not just be a catwalk for celebrities.”
Barbera also emphasized that out of around 50 films that will be shown, 20 will be by female directors – a pointed reference to the last Cannes film festival, which was criticized for not including enough women.
One of the innovations at the festival will be that more than a dozen films will be screened online for a fee on the same day as their premiere.