Sofia Coppola’s comic drama "Somewhere," and Darren Aronofsky’s "Black Swan" will make their world premieres at the Venice Film Festival, among 22 titles that organizers announced will vie for the prestigious Golden Lion.
Festival director Marco Mueller emphasized the young age of the directors competing at the festival’s 67th edition — averaging 47, the youngest ever. "Venice is getting younger," said Mueller as he presented the selection for the world’s oldest movie fest.
Despite their age, many of the young directors come to Venice experienced. Oscar-winner Coppola, 39, will showcase her movie starring Stephen Dorff as a bad-boy actor struggling through life. “Somewhere” is produced by her serial Oscar-winning father Francis Ford Coppola.
Aronofsky, 41, returns to Venice with a psychological thriller about the cutthroat New York ballet world two years after winning the top prize for his drama "The Wrestler." "Black Swan" stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder.
Others in the under-50 crowd who will compete for the Golden Lion are and Vincent Gallo, 49, both of the United States, and 43-year-old Francois Ozon of France.
Gallo’s "Promises Written on Water" is a somber tale about a girl with a terminal illness.
Perhaps compensating for his youth, Ozon has tapped mature talent in veteran French actors Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu in his comedy "Potiche."
Bringing up the average is 78-year-old US director Monte Hellman, who will be premiering his indie feature "Road to Nowhere," about a young writer who gets caught up in a crime.
"The average age drops to 45.52 without him," Mueller quipped.
Only one director is making his debut, Ascanio Celestini with "La Pecora Nera" (Black Sheep), a play that has been redone for film. That compares with five directorial debuts last year.
Also showing is Richard J. Lewis’ adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s comic novel "Barney’s Version," starring Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman, and US indie director Kelly Reichardt with the period drama "Meek’s Cutoff."
German director Tom Tykwer will premier his movie "Drei" and Tunisian-born director Abdellatif Kechiche will be back in Venice with "Venus Noire" (Black Venus). The French director premiered "La Graine et Le Mulet" (The Secret of the Grain) at Venice in 2007.
"Black Venus" relates the story of a southern African slave of Dutch farmers who was exhibited as a freak show attraction in Europe in the early 19th century, forced to gyrate her large buttocks.
Italy has four films in competition including Saverio Costanzo’s adaptation of the best-selling Paolo Giordano novel "The Solitude of Prime Numbers" starring Isabella Rossellini.
Only three Asian films are in the running.
Two are from Japan: "13 Assassins" by Miike Takashi and "Norwegian Wood" by Tran Anh Hung; and from China "Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame" by Tsui Hark.
Organizers will announce a surprise contender on September 6.
Lido regular and part-time Italian resident George Clooney isn’t expected again this year.
Aronofsky’s movie got tagged for the opening slot, and the US release of Clooney’s new film, "The American," was already scheduled for Sept. 1 — the opening day of the festival.
"We put together an opening night of which we are very proud," Mueller said.
In the end, Clooney’s picture, a thriller shot largely in the quake-stricken region of Abruzzo, is absent from the festival lineup.
In all, 79 world premieres will be shown at Venice from Sept. 1-11, including a work from the Dominican Republic for the first time, about its neighbor Haiti.
The Affleck brothers — Ben and Casey — both will be in Venice, but on separate projects. Ben Affleck is premiering "The Town," out of competition, his second film as director after "Gone Baby Gone." He also stars in the movie as a bank robber who has fallen for a bank manager he met on a heist.
Casey Affleck will be showing his documentary "I Am Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix."
Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones’ "A Letter to Elia" will also screen out of competition as American films return in force to the lagoon city after a few lower-profile years.
Director Quentin Tarantino is heading the jury which will also include fellow directors Arnaud Desplechin of France, Guillermo Arriaga of Mexico and Italian Gabriele Salvatores. Director John Woo will be awarded a Golden Lion for his career.
Four films will be competing separately for the festival’s second 3-D award. And Venice this year has revamped the Horizons competition to focus more on experimental film, which Mueller said was a reflection of risk-taking resulting from the economic crisis.
The Mostra, which began in 1932, now has a budget of €12 million ($15.7 million) including seven million from the Italian government.
List of the Official Competition:
A 23rd "surprise" entry will be announced on September 6.
"Black Swan" by Darren Aronofsky (US)
"La Pecora Nera" (Black Sheep) by Ascanio Celestini (Italy)
"Somewhere" by Sofia Coppola (US)
"Happy Few" by Antony Cordier (France)
"The Solitude of Prime Numbers" by Saverio Costanzo (Italy)
"Ovsyanki" (Silent Souls) by Aleksei Fedorchenko (Russia)
"Promises Written in Water" by Vincent Gallo (US)
"Road to Nowhere" by Monte Hellman (US)
"A Sad Trumpet Ballad" by Alex de la Iglesia (Spain/France)
"Black Venus" by Abdellatif Kechiche (France)
"Post Mortem" by Pablo Larrain (Chile/Mexico/Germany)
"Barney’s Version" by Richard J. Lewis (Canada/Italy)
"Noi Credevamo" (We Believed) by Mario Martone (Italy-France)
"La Passione" (The Passion) by Carlo Mazzacurati (Italy)
"13 Assassins" by Miike Takashi (Japan/Britain)
"Potiche" by Francois Ozon (France)
"Meek’s Cutoff" by Kelly Reichardt (US)
"Miral" by Julian Schnabel (US/France/Italy/Israel)
"Noruwei no mori" ("Norwegian Wood") by Tran Anh Hung (Japan)
"Attenberg" by Athina Rachel Tsangari (Greece)
"Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame" by Hark Tsui (China)
"Drei" (Three) by Tom Tykwer (Germany)