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Don't Lie and Be Boring: 7 Intriguing Venice Film Festival Premieres

By Cindy Davis | Lists | July 29, 2013 |

By Cindy Davis | Lists | July 29, 2013 |

This year’s festival (the 70th) features a couple of big name productions you’ve likely already heard about right here at Pajiba (Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem, starring Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz and The Swinton (first images include the header and these):



and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity starring Clooney and Bullock), and perhaps a couple you haven’t: Ki-duk Kim’s Moebius (Has anyone seen Pieta, because I’m a little frightened?)—which has been banned in the director’s home country because of scenes containing incest and self-castration—and Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm. Here are a few standouts from the impressive list; in total Venice will host screenings of 53 new films from 33 countries. Additionally, to celebrate it’s 70th year, Biennale di Venezia has invited 70 filmmakers (who have participated at the festival at least once) to make a 60 to 90 second film; participating directors will be revealed daily at the Biennale website.

1. Child of God



Directed by (and starring) James Franco (My Own Private River, As I Lay Dying, also starring Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson and Jim Parrack. Adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s ultra dark and depressing novel about Lester (Haze), a loner who holes himself up in the mountains of Tennessee. Without going into too much detail, suffice to say Lester is violent and depraved—the book made me feel sick and a little dirty. Kudos to Franco for his perfect Lester casting.

2. Tracks


Directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil, We Don’t Live Here Anymore), starring Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver and Emma Booth. Based on Robyn Davidson’s award-winning memoirs of her journey (with four camels and her dog) from Alice Springs, Australia through the desert to the Indian Ocean. Photographer Rick Smolan (Driver) met up with Davidson (Wasikowska) a few times during her nine-months of travel to take pictures; the two had an intermittent relationship. Tracks was filmed in Southern Australia and the Northern Territory.

Robyn Davidson:


Here’s the real Rick Smolan speaking about how he met Robyn Davidson and got involved in her journey:

3. Under the Skin



Directed by Jonathan Glazer (Birth), starring Scarlett Johansson, Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Paul Brannigan. Scarjo as an alien in human form, travels across Scottland to gather people for [redacted]… Based on the Michael Faber novel.

4. Philomena



Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dirty Pretty Things, High Fidelity), starring Judi Dench, Steve Coogan and Sophie Kennedy Clark. Based on a true story of an unmarried Irish woman whose newborn son was taken away by Catholic nuns and sold to an American couple. After decades of searching, a chance encounter provides Philomena (Dench) help with her search.

5. Night Moves



Directed by Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy), starring Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard and Alia Shawkat. This “ecoterrorist thriller” chronicles three radical environmentalists who plan to blow up a dam. The production seems to have overcome a suit alleging Night Moves was plagiarized from Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang.

6. Parkland



Peter Landesman’s directorial debut, starring Zac Efron, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, Colin Hanks, Tom Welling, Marcia Gay Harden, James Badge Dale, Ron Livingston and Mark Duplass. Based on Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F Kennedy, the film analyzes events at Parkland Memorial Hospital the day Kennedy was killed. Produced by Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton, among others.

7. Joe


Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, All the Real Girls), starring Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Sue Rock. Adaptation of Larry Brown’s “brutal” novel about a “hard-drinking” tormented ex-con (Cage) who meets a 15 year old (Sheridan [Mud, Tree of Life]), looking for escape from his hellish home; the pair form an unusual bond.

Full Line-up:

Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón (Opening film)

In Competition:

Ana Arabia, Amos Gitai

Child of God, James Franco

Die Frau des Polizisten (The Police Officer’s Wife), Philip Groning

L’intrepido, Gianni Amelio

La Jalousie, Philippe Garrel

Jiaoyou, (Stray Dogs), Tsai Ming-liang

Joe, David Gordon Green

Kaze Tachinu, Hayao Miyazaki

Miss Violence, Alexandros Avranas

Night Moves, Kelly Reichardt

Parkland, Peter Landesman

Philomena, Stephen Frears

Sacro GRA, Gianfranco Rosi

Es-Stouh (The Rooftops), Merzak Allouache

Tom at the Farm, Xavier Dolan

Tracks, John Curran

Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer

The Unknown Known: the Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld , Errol Morris

Via Castellana Bandiera, Emma Dante

The Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam

Out of Competition:

Die Andere Heimat — Chronik einer Sehnsucht (Home from Home — Chronicle of a Vision), Edgar Reitz

The Armstrong Lie, Alex Gibney

At Berkeley, Frederick Wiseman

The Canyons, Paul Schrader (worrisome)

Che strano chiamarsi Federico Scola racconta Fellini, Ettore Scola

Feng Ai (‘Til Madness Do Us Apart), Wang Bing

Locke, Steven Knight

Moebius, Kim Ki Duk

Pine Ridge, Anna Eborn

Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Aramaki Shinji

Summer 82 When Zappa Came to Sicily, Salvo Cuccia

Ukraina ne Bordel (Ukraine Is Not Brothel), Kitty Green

Walesa. Czlowiek z nadziei (Walesa. Man of Hope), Andrzej Wajda, Ewa Brodzka

Wolf Creek 2, Greg McLean

Yurusarezaru mono, (Unforgiven), Lee Sang-Il


Algunas Chicas, Santiago Palavecino

Bauyr (Little Brother), Serik Aprymov

Eastern Boys, Robin Campillo

Jigoku de naze warui (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?), Sono Sion

Mahi Va Gorbeh (Fish and Cat), Shahram Mokri

Je m’appelle Hmmm…, Agnes B.

Medeas, Andrea Pallaoro

Il terzo tempo, Enrico Maria Artale

Palo Alto, Gia Coppola

Piccola Patria, Alessandro Rossetto

La prima neve, Andrea Segre

Ruin, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Michael Cody

The Sacrament, Ti West

Still Life, Uberto Pasolini

Vi ar bast! (We Are the Best!), Lukas Moodysson

La vida despues, David Pablos

Wolfskinder (Wolfschildren), Rick Ostermann

Amazonia, Thierry Ragobert (Closing film)


Cindy Davis, (Twitter) is no darling bud.