The Venice film festival is seen as the nicer relative of its Cannes counterpart. While the French have no issue in objecting verbally and even physically sometimes to a film that does not meet their exacting standards, their Italian cousins are much more accommodating, especially to American filmmakers.
Not that the 2012 U.S. contingent have much to worry about, after enjoying a strong Cannes showing, Venice will also see a robust American presence competing for the Golden Lion.
The pick of the bunch is Terrence Malick’s Oklahoma-set drama To The Wonder, which stars Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams. It is only Malick’s 6th feature ever, quite startling for a career that started way back in 1973 with Badlands, still his best film.
However, Malick is not the only legendary filmmaker in competition this year. While Brian De Palma stopped making great movies 20 years ago, there is always high expectation surrounding his new work and Passion is no different. Described as a sexual thriller, is also stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace. And, despite his poor run of form, De Palma actually won the best directing award the last time he was at Venice for Redacted in 2007.
Another interesting entry is At Any Price which is directed by Ramin Bahrani, whose previous work includes Man Push Cart and Chop Shop. The film stars Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid and Heather Graham and is set in the world of modern agriculture.
But, undoubtedly the wild card entry of this year, from an American perspective anyway, is Spring Breakers directed by Harmony Korine. This chaotic comedy, which stars James Franco and Selena Gomez, chronicles a group of college girls’ plunge into the criminal underworld while on a spring break vacation.
The 69th Annual Venice Film Festival kicks off on the 29th August. There are 17 films entered in competition this year.