Two Chinese films will be competing for the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice International Film Festival this summer.
They are Saturday Fiction, directed by Lou Ye and starring Gong Li, Joe Odagiri, Pascal Greggory, Tom Wlaschiha, and No. 7 Cherry Lane, an animation feature directed by Yon Fan, Global Times reported.
The announcement took place in Rome on Thursday, during a press conference at the Cinema Moderno.
Also vying for the top prize will be works from award-winning directors such as Olivier Assayas from France and Canada’s Atom Egoyan, as well as Roman Polanski with his much-anticipated new movie J’Accuse (I Accuse), a period piece based on the life of 19th-century French officer Alfred Dreyfus, who was wrongfully accused of treason.
Polanski’s inclusion in the festival instantly sparked controversy.
New assault accusations have surfaced, following the notorious 1977 Los Angeles case where Polanski was charged with raping a minor.
He has since been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2018, and, cannot attend the festival.
Meanwhile, the US has four star-studded films in the running.
These include Marriage Story with Scarlett Johansson and directed by Noah Baumbach, and Ad Astra by director James Gray, starring Brad Pitt and Liv Tyler, the report said.
Steven Soderbergh steps into the ring with The Laundromat, a drama starring Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, Sharon Stone and Gary Oldman about the web of money laundering revealed in the so-called Panama Papers data leak of 2015.
Director Todd Phillips will present The Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro, a psychological thriller based on the DC Comics character of the same name.
La vérité (The Truth), directed by Japan’s Kore-eda Hirokazu, is the opening movie at the festival. The film stars Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke in a drama in which a reunion between mother and daughter turns to confrontation, the report said.
“We shot the movie in ten weeks last fall in Paris,” the Japanese director said in a statement. “The film…recounts a small family story that takes place primarily inside a house. I have tried to make my characters live within this small universe, with their lies, pride, regrets, sadness, joy, and reconciliation.”
Venice chief Alberto Barbera defended the decision to include Polanski’s new film, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“It’s a big movie. He did a great, great job to reconstruct a historical, accurate expression of the case, based on two documents of the time.” said Barbera. “It’s a great cast with a wonderful script. And of course he projects his own personal experience.
“It’s a very strong political statement that not only concerns the past, but is a very contemporary statement about racism and other types of problems. It’s on the same scale of The Pianist, and similar in that it’s connected to his own experience.”
The 76th Venice International Film Festival runs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7.