Ahmed Maher’s directorial full-length debut feature “El-Mosafer (The Traveler) will vie for the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion Award in September, the festival’s organizers announced on Thursday.
Starring Egyptian screen legend Omar Sharif, Khaled El-Nabawy, Cyrine Abdel Nour and Amr Waked, the film traces the life of one man over three days in three different periods: 1948 in Suez, 1973 in Alexandria and 2001 in Cairo.
“The Traveler, which marks the return of the Ministry of Culture to film production after a 30-year absence, has been dubbed as one of the most expensive productions in Egyptian film history.
“The Traveler faces stiff competition this year from the likes of “Cinema Paradiso’s Giuseppe Tornatore, Golden Bear winner Fatih Akin (“Head-On, “The Edge of Heaven ), maverick French auteur Claire Denis (“Trouble Every Day, “Beau travail ) and legendary German director Werner Herzog (“Aguirre, Wrath of God, “Fitzcarraldo ).
The line-up, regarded as the strongest in many years, also includes French new wave alumnus Jacques Rivette (“Celine and Julie Go Boating ), controversial American director Todd Solondz (“Happiness, “Welcome to the Dollhouse ) and, most notably, notorious documentary filmmaker Michael Moore’s examination of the world s economic crisis “Capitalism: A Love Story.
Yousry Nasrallah’s recently released critically acclaimed smash “Ehky ya Scheherazade (Tell Me a Story Scheherazade) is showing outside the competition alongside Grant Heslov’s Iraq-set drama “The Men Who Stare at Goats starring George Clooney, Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero’s sequel to the highly successful Spanish horror “Req and Steven Soderbergh’s corporate comedy thriller “The Informant! starring Matt Damon.
Notably absent from the line-up is The Coen Brothers’ Mississippi-set comedy “A Serious Man which could score a surprise entry later next month.
Completing the Egyptian line-up this year is Kamla Abou Zekri’s “Wahed-Sefr (One-Zero) starring Khaled Abol Naga and Elham Shaheen which will be shown in the Horizons side-bar along with Raja Amari’s “Dohawa (Buried Secrets), Bobby Paunescu’s “Francesca, Christian Becker and Oliver Schwabe’s “Zarte Parasiten (Tender Parasites) and Frank Scheffer’s “The One All Alone among several other pictures.
Among the other notable films screened this year are Abel Ferrara’s Italian-set production “Napoli, Napoli, Napoli, Oliver Stone’s Hugo Chavez documentary “South of the Border, Antoine Fuqua’s crime drama “Brooklyn’s Finest starring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke, British helmer Nicolas Winding Refn’s (“Bronson ) action-adventure “Valhalla Rising starring Mads Mikkelsen in addition to a special presentation of Pixar’s “Toy Story in 3-D.
Two-time Golden Lion winner Ang Lee will preside over this year’s jury that includes French actress Sandrine Bonnaire, Italian filmmaker Liliana Cavani, American director Joe Dante, Indian screenwriter Anurag Kashyap and Italian rock star Luciano Ligabue.
Venice is one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. The 66th edition opens on September 2 with Tornatore’s autobiographical picture “Baarìa and concludes on the 12th of the same month.
Opening film: Baaria: Giuseppe Tornatore, ItalySoul Kitchen: Fatih Akin, GermanyLa Doppia Ora: Giuseppe Capotondi, ItalyYi ngoi (Accident): Cheang Pou-Soi, China/Hong KongPersecution: Patrice Chereau, FranceLo Spazio Bianco (White Space): Francesca Comencini, ItalyWhite Material: Claire Denis, FranceMr. Nobody: Jaco van Dormael, FranceA Single Man: Tom Ford, USLourdes: Jessica Hausner, AustriaBad Lieutenant: Port Of New Orleans: Werner Herzog, USThe Road: John Hillcoat, USAhasin Wetei (Between Two Worlds): Vimukhti Jayasundara, Sri LankaEl-Mosafer (The Traveler): Ahmed Maher , EgyptLevanon (Lebanon): Samuel Maoz, IsraelCapitalism: A Love Story: Michael Moore, USZanan-e-bedun-e mardan (Women Without Men): Shirin Neshat, GermanyIl Grande Sogno (The Big Dream): Michele Placido, Italy36 Vues Du Pic Saint Loup: Jacques Rivette, FranceLife During Wartime: Todd Solondz, USTetsuo The Bullet Man: Shinya Tsukamoto, JapanLei wangzi (Prince of Tears): Yonfan, China/Taiwan/Hong Kong
*There will be an additional “surprise film in competition.
Out of competition:
Rec 2: Paco Plaza,Jaume Balaguero, SpainChengdu, Wo Ai Ni (Chengdu, I Love You): Fruit Chan, Cui Jian, ChinaThe Hole: Joe Dante, USThe Men Who Stare At Goats: Grant Heslov, USEhky ya Schahrazad (Scheherazade, Tell Me A Story): Yousry Nasrallah, EgyptYona Yona Penguin: Rintaro (Animation), JapanThe Informant!: Steven Soderbergh, US
Horizons – Orizzonti:
Opening Film: Francesca: Bobby Paunescu, RomaniaWahed-Sefr (One-Zero): Kamla Abou Zekri, EgyptDohawa (Buried Secrets): Raja Amari, TunisiaZarte Parasiten (Tender Parasites): Christian Becker/Oliver Schwabe, GermanyChoi voi (Adrift): Bui Thac Chuyen, VietnamKorotkoye Zamykaniye (Crush): Petr Buslov, Alexi German Jr., Boris Khlebnikov, Kirill Serebrennikov, Ivan Vrypayev; RussiaRepo Chick: Alex Cox, USEngkwentro: Pepe Diokno, PhilippinesAadmi Ki Aurat Aur Anya Kahaniya (The Man’s Woman and Other Stories): Amit Dutta, IndiaParaiso: Hector Galvez, PeruIo Sono Amore (I Am Love): Luca Guadagnino, ItalyDou niu (Cow): Guan Hu, ChinaTouxi (Judge): Liu Jie, ChinaPepperminta: Pipilotti Rist, SwitzerlandInsolacao – Vincenzo Terracciano, Tris Di Donne & Abiti Nuziali, Daniela Thomas, Felipe Hirsch; Brazil1428: Du Haibin, ChinaViajo Porque Preciso, Volto Porque Tea Mo (I Travel Because I Think I Have To, I Come Back To You Because I Love You): Marcelo Gomes, Karim Ainouz; BrazilWomen Cenging De Wuchanzhe (Once Upon A Time Proletarian:12 Tales of A Country): Guo Xiaolu, ChinaVillalobos: Romuald Karmakar, GermanyIl Colore Delle Parole: Marco Simon Puccioni, ItalyThe One All: Frank Scheffer, HollandToto: Peter Schreiner, Austria
Cinema Del Presente:
Napoli, Napoli, Napoli: Abel Ferrara, ItalyAnni Luce: Francesco Maselli, ItalyL’Oro Di Cuba: Giuliano Montaldo, ItalyProve Per Una Tragedia Siciliana: Roman Paska, John Tuturro, ItalySouth Of The Border: Oliver Stone, US
Midnight – Mezzanotte:
Gulaal: Anurag Kashyap, IndiaDev D: Anurag Kashyap, IndiaBrooklyn’s Finest: Antoine Fuqua, USDeli 6: Mehra Rakeysh Omprakash, IndiaValhalla Rising: Nicolas Winding Refn, DenmarkToy Story 3-D: John Lasseter, US (Lasseter has already been awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement)Toy Story 2 3-D: John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon; US