MANY ARE SAYING WINNER DIFFICULT TO PREDICT UNTIL DE PALMA'S FILM HITS
The last time Brian De Palma brought a film to Venice, five years ago, he won the director's prize, the Silver Lion, for Redacted. Jury member Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu presented the award to De Palma, who in accepting it, said, "Prizes are always great because it helps your film to be seen. But critics and prizes just tell you what the fashion of the day is. We don't make movies to get prizes." The jury that year was made up completely of film directors, headed by Zhang Yimou, and featuring, along with Inarritu, Paul Verhoeven, Jane Campion, Catherine Breillat, Ferzan Ozpetek, and Emanuele Crialese. It was great to see De Palma and Redacted recognized by an international jury of fellow film directors.
The winning film that year was Ang Lee's sexually-charged espionage thriller Lust,Caution. The decision had come as a surprise to critics and media that had been following the festival, as nobody seemed to think that Lee's film had caused much of a stir. However, the jury members had obviously been in their own world the entire time, and chose the film they thought was best.
As the current edition of the Venice Film Festival winds down, many journalists have abandoned Venice for the Toronto International Film Festival, which opened yesterday (Thursday). Several articles were posted earlier this week trying to gauge the feel of the films, and what the frontrunners are at the Venice midway point. Several have mentioned, however, that with De Palma's Passion yet to screen, it is very difficult to guess what the jury will go for. The awards ceremony will take place Saturday, the day after Passion premieres.
This year's jury president is Michael Mann, who was heavily influenced by the look of De Palma's Scarface as he was creating the TV show Miami Vice in the 1980s. The other members of this year's jury are Italian director Matteo Garrone (whose Gomorrah partially deals with the influence of De Palma's Scarface on real life), Waltz With Bashir director Ari Folman (from Israel), Serbian artist Marina Abramovic, British actress Samantha Morton, French actress Laetitia Casta, Argentine director Pablo Trapero, Swiss director Ursula Meier, and Hong Kong director Peter Ho-Sun Chan.
On Monday, Deadline's Nancy Tartaglione stated that a festival poll of 20 critics gave the best score of Venice films that had screened so far to Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. She added that "Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Faith, an absurdist look at religion, has its fans as do Russian infidelity story Betrayal by Kirill Serebrennikov and Israeli family drama Fill The Void by Rama Burshtein. Indiewire's Matt Mueller, who had left Venice by Tuesday, posted that his pick of the festival (at least, the half of the festival that he attended), was Sarah Polley's nonfictional Stories We Tell. Italian film critic Tommaso Tocci was impressed by Olivier Assayas' After May (which is the literal translation of its French title-- the given international title is Something In The Air), a look at the "second-hand struggle" of the next generation of French teenagers in a post-60s revolutionary landscape.
By Wednesday, a German news source was reporting that Assayas' film had "unanimous support", and also indicated praise for The Master, as well as Paradise: Faith. The report added, however, that with Michael Mann heading the jury, and De Palma's Passion still remaining, it was difficult to predict the upcoming awards ceremony. The report suggested that Mann, whose own films show "a propensity for action and sophisticated camera work," may push for either The Master or Passion rather than the "meandering" Apres Mai or the biting dark comedy Paradise: Faith.
And then there is Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, which Screen Daily's Lee Marshall calls "visually ravishing – indeed, at times cinematographer Benoit Debie’s camerawork, done on a dizzying array of filmstocks and formats, with slow-motion used to good effect in certain sequences, brings Terrence Malick to mind (if you can imagine Malick remaking a Russ Meyer film, that is)."
And speaking of Malick, his To The Wonder had its world premiere at Venice this past Sunday, followed by a (mostly-expected) mixed reaction. As Deadline's Tartaglione says, To The Wonder should not be counted out when trying to predict what the jury will select.