Daily | Venice 2014 Lineup

Roy Andersson's 'A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence'

Roy Andersson’s ‘A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence’

The Venice International Film Festival has announced the lineup for its 71st edition running from August 27 through September 6. Though there’s quite a bit of overlap with the first round of titles that Toronto announced on Tuesday, there are a few surprises tucked in here and there, especially in the Horizons program.

The Venice Classics lineup was announced last week.


Fatih Akin‘s The Cut. Pulled from the Cannes lineup “for personal reasons,” this is the final installment in Akin’s Love, Death and the Devil trilogy. Last year, Akin told Cineuropa that his star, Tahar Rahim, “doesn’t say a word throughout the film and he is a bit like Charlie Chaplin, but at the same time, he is a typical western character, like Sergio Leone.”

Roy Andersson‘s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. According to Time Out, it “focuses on a traveling salesman and another man who is slightly mentally challenged. The salesman shares with the other man his own take on why society operates as it does.”

Ramin Bahrani‘s 99 Homes. From Toronto: “After his family is evicted from their home, proud and desperate construction worker Dennis Nash tries to win his home back by striking a deal with the devil and working for Rick Carver, the corrupt real estate broker who evicted him. Starring Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern and Michael Shannon.”

Rakhshan Bani E’temad’s Tales. “Revisiting the social concerns of her previous nine features and multiple documentaries, top Iranian director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad offers an up-to-the-minute portrait of her country in the throes of bureaucracy, drug abuse, single motherhood, prostitution and a host of other problems,” wrote Deborah Young for the Hollywood Reporter in February. “The result is darkly unsettling and less fascinating than the original films, but it’s still a Bani-Etemad work full of emotional confrontations and on-the-money acting from Iran’s finest, able to turn familiar social issues into watchable drama.”

Xavier Beauvois‘s La rancon de la gloire. From Moviepilot: “Set in the 1970s, La rançon de la gloire tells the offbeat story of two criminals in desperate need money of money who decide to pull off a rather unusual heist: steal Charlie Chaplin’s coffin for ransom and blackmail the family.”

Saverio Costanzo’s Hungry Hearts. From Toronto: “Mina and Jude meet while stuck together in the restroom of a restaurant, marking the beginning of a true love story. They move in together. They get married. And anticipate the arrival of their baby—until a spiritual guide tells Mina she is bearing an ‘indigo’ child. Starring Adam Driver, Alba Rohrwacher and Roberta Maxwell.”

Alix Delaporte’s Le dernier coup de marteau. According to Cineuropa, the story will revolve around a 14-year-old. That’s about all I can find at the moment. With Romain Paul, Clotilde Hesme, Grégory Gadebois, Candela Peña and Tristán Ulloa.

Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini. From Toronto: “Rome: on the night of November 2, 1975, the great Italian poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini is murdered. Pasolini is the symbol of an art that’s fighting against the power. His writings are scandalous, and his films are persecuted by the censors; many people love him and many hate him. The day of his death, Pasolini spends his last hours with his beloved mother and later with his dearest friends, until he finally goes out into the night in his Alfa Romeo in search of adventure in the eternal city. At dawn Pasolini is found dead on a beach in Ostia on the outskirts of the city. In a film dreamlike and visionary, blending reality and imagination, it reconstructs the last day in the life of this great poet. Starring Willem Dafoe.”

David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn. From Toronto: “Angelo Manglehorn is a small town locksmith who never got over the love of his life. Clara was a beautiful, idealized woman who left him heartbroken 40 years ago. He still writes her letters obsessively as he tries to find her and get back the woman of his dreams. Manglehorn is the journey of this magical man, his son, his cat and a beautiful new woman trying to help him put the pieces of his heart back together. Starring Al Pacino, Holly Hunter and Chris Messina.”

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. Opening Night. A “black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton)—famous for portraying an iconic superhero—as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.”

Benoît Jacquot‘s Three Hearts. First, the cast: Catherine Deneuve, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni and Benoît Poelvoorde. And the gist, via Ioncinema: “One night, in the countryside. Marc misses his train to head back to Paris and meets Sylvie. They wander until the morning, talking about everything but themselves, in complete harmony. When Marc leaves, they agree to meet a few days later. Sylvie goes to the meeting but not Marc. As he looks for her, he meets another woman, Sophie, without knowing she is Sylvie’s sister. Marc and Sylvie will be reunited, their bond still intact. It is however too late…”

Andrei Konchalovsky’s The Postman’s White Nights. From what I can gather via Google’s translation, Konchalovsky aims to convey the traditions, values and lifestyle of a remote Russian village via the story of a postman who serves as a link between the villagers and the rest of civilization.

Mario Martone’s Il Giovane Favoloso. According to Filmitalia, it draws on the writings and correspondence of Giacomo Leopardi. With Elio Germano, Michele Riondino, Massimo Popolizio, Anna Mouglalis, Valerio Binasco and Isabella Ragonese.

Kaan Mujdeci’s Sivas. From a brochure on the “Centenary of Turkish Cinema”: “A family in Anatolian moorlands: a father, barely able to look after his family, a mother like a ghost and a hopeless brother. Anxious to break the chain of fate, Aslan (11) pushes to be the prince in the school play. But his chances are slim: he is trying to compete with Osman (11), son of the village chief. He is given a part in the end, but as a dwarf. Osman is the prince, and Aslan’s dream girl, Ayşe, Snow White. When Aslan finds Sivas, a fighter Kangal dog one day, the balance be- gins to shift. At first, Aslan doesn’t want Sivas to fight, but the power is there. He wins fights, gets tougher every day and starts to be like the others, until his brother sells Sivas.”

Francesco Munzi’s Anime Nere (Black Souls). From Smarthouse Films: “Three brothers from the Aspromonte region in Calabria are not affiliated with the mighty and deadly ‘ndrangheta organization but are involved in numerous and widespread criminal activities. The infernal journey of the three protagonists traces an ever widening path of blood and violence throughout Italy and spreads within the family as well outside. The culprits are also the victims of an ancient archaic evil, born from within the bowels of the Aspromonte.” Co-written with Maurizio Braucci (Gomorra).

Andrew Niccol’s Good Kill. From Toronto: “A Las Vegas-based fighter pilot turned drone pilot fights the Taliban by remote control for 12 hours a day, then goes home to the suburbs and feuds with his wife and kids for the other 12. But the pilot is starting to question the mission. Is he creating more terrorists than he’s killing? Is he fighting a war without end? This story follows one soldier’s tale with epic implications. Starring Ethan Hawke and January Jones.”

David Oelhoffen’s Loin des Hommes. From Kaleo Films: “1954. Daru teaches local children in the isolated heart of Algeria’s Atlas mountains. When a gendarme asks him to escort a young Algerian accused of murder to the nearest courthouse, the schoolmaster refuses. But the French officer leaves the prisoner and the next morning vengeful villagers on horseback attack the school. With the endangered youth in tow, Daru is forced to flee the high plains on foot. Caught in the crossfire of warring nations, and far from the politics that sparked the conflict, two men are forced to search their own paths towards freedom.”

Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence. In February, Oppenheimer spoke with the Hollywood Reporter about this followup to The Act of Killing: “In some ways it’s the film I set out to make at the beginning. It’s about a family of survivors, who find out who killed their son through my work with the first 40 perpetrators I met and filmed before I encountered Anwar [the former gang leader and aging killer who is the focus of The Act of Killing]. The youngest brother in this family decides he will confront the men who did this to his brother and it’s about that process.”

Shinya Tsukamoto‘s Nobi (Fires on the Plain). Anyone? With Shinya Tsukamoto, Yusaku Mori, Yuko Nakamura, Tatsuya Nakamura and Lily Franky.

Wang Xiaoshuai‘s Red Amnesia. From Toronto: “A retired widow has her daily routine derailed when she starts receiving mysterious, anonymous phone calls, in this scintillating thriller from Chinese ‘Sixth Generation’ master Wang Xiaoshuai. Starring L Zhong, Shi Liu, Feng Yuanzheng, Qin Hao and Amanda Qin.”


Guillermo Arriaga, Emir Kusturica, Amos Gitai, Mira Nair, Warwick Thornton, Hector Babenco, Bahman Ghobadi, Hideo Nakata and Alex de la Iglesia’s Words with Gods. According to We Are Movie Geeks, Arriaga dreamed it up, Peter Gabriel’s written the original music and it’s been “shaped into its current form by Nobel Prize award winner Mario Vargas Llosa.” Each director “recounts a narrative centered around human fragility, as well as environmental and cultural crises involving specific religions with which each has a personal relationship; including early Aboriginal Spirituality, Umbanda, Buddhism, the Abrahamic faiths, Hinduism, and Atheism.” And this’ll be “the first part of the Arriaga-helmed Heartbeat of the World feature film series, which will include Encounters, a look at sexual identity (currently in pre-production), Into the Bloodstream, an exploration into drugs; and Polis, an examination of politics (with the latter two in development).”

Peter Bogdanovich’s She’s Funny That Way. From Wikipedia: “The film centers on a hooker-turned-Broadway-thespian (Imogen Poots) and follows the ‘recurring intersection between these two facets of her life.’ A Broadway director (Owen Wilson) pays for her escort services despite being married to the star (Kathryn Hahn) of his new play A Grecian Evening. The play’s writer (Will Forte) falls for her as well, despite the fact that he’s already dating her therapist (Jennifer Aniston), whose alcoholic mother is in rehab.”

Peter Ho-sun Chan’s Dearest. From Toronto: “Drawing on remarkable true stories, Peter Chan delivers a moving drama about child abduction in China. Huang Bo stars as a father whose young son disappears in the streets of a big city. He sets out on a search across China, stopping at nothing to find him. In this star-studded cast, Zhao Wei plays the role of a mother from a poor rural area.”

Lisa Cholodenko’s Olive Kitteridge. From the Playlist: “Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Elizabeth Strout, and adapted by playwright Jane Anderson, the series will chronicle the dirty laundry of one, small New England town as seen through the eyes of the titular Olive,” played by Frances McDormand. With Bill Murray, Richard Jenkins, John Gallagher Jr, Zoe Kazan, Jesse Plemons, Brady Corbet, Cory Michael Smith and Rosemarie DeWitt.

Joe Dante’s Burying the Ex. According to Bloody Disgusting, it “follows Max [Anton Yelchin], an all-around nice guy, and his overbearing but incredibly beautiful girlfriend, Evelyn [Ashley Greene]. Their relationship takes a nosedive after they decide to move in together and Evelyn turns out to be a controlling, manipulative nightmare. Max knows it’s time to call it quits, but there’s just one problem: he’s terrified of breaking up with her. Fate steps in when Evelyn is involved in a freak accident and dies, leaving Max single and ready to mingle. Max eventually meets Olivia [Alexandra Daddario], a cute and spirited girl who just might be his soul mate, only to learn that Evelyn has risen from her grave and is determined to get her boyfriend back…even if that means turning him into one of the undead.”

Edoardo De Angelis’s Perez. Paraphrasing LeoCinema, Perez is a lawyer in Naples who prefers a life of dull monotony over the misery of failure. That is, until a young woman is kidnapped.

Davide Ferrario’s La zuppa del demonio. According to the Fondazione Film Commission Torino Piemonte, this documentary takes on “the great themes that have characterized the industrial development of the 20th century” in Italy, from the electrification of large-scale industry in the 1910s through the years of fascism and war, postwar reconstruction, the rise of Fiat and Olivetti, on through to the age of nuclear power and hi-tech.

James Franco’s The Sound and the Fury. An adaptation of William Faulkner’s 1929 novel with Franco, Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson, Joey King, Ahna O’Reilly, Seth Rogen and Jon Hamm. In March, Nicole Mulvaney wrote up a report from the set for the Times of Trenton.

Amos Gitai‘s Tsili. From Trikita Entertainment: “The 1940s, Eastern Europe. Tsili is an adolescent girl of 17. Her parents and the rest of her family have been deported to the camps. With the instincts of a tiny animal, she has built herself a nest in the vast forest overlooking the valley, where she used to walk when she was a child.”

Sabina Guzzanti’s La trattativa. The Italian site Coming Soon calls it an investigation that will reveal the secrets of the “thorniest” chapter in the history of the Second Republic, the negotiations between the state and the mafia.

Ann Hui’s The Golden Era. Closing Night. This “biopic of radical and controversial Chinese female writer Xiao Hong, stars Chinese actress Tang Wei (Lust, Caution),” notes Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli.

Im Kwon-taek’s Make Up. Im Kwon-taek’s 102nd film “is about a middle aged man who is stuck between his dying wife and a younger woman he loves,” notes HanCinema. “It is based on a novel written by Kim Hoon which is also the Grand Prize winner of the 28th Top Literature Awards.”

Barry Levinson’s The Humbling. From Toronto: “The Humbling tells the story of a legendary stage actor who has an affair with a lesbian woman half his age at a secluded country house in Connecticut. Based on Philip Roth’s final novel, it is a tragic comedy about a man who has lived inside his own imagination for too long. Starring Al Pacino, Mandy Patinkin, Dianne Wiest and Greta Gerwig.”

Manoel de Oliveira‘s The Old Man of Belem. From Cineuropa: “With a title evoking the pessimistic character created by Luis de Camões in his 16th-century epic poem Os Lusiadas, O Velho do Restelo is based on excerpts from the work O Penitente by Teixeira de Pascoaes, which recounts the life and work of Portuguese romantic writer Camilo de Castelo Branco. It is through these literary references, which also incorporate others such as those of Miguel de Cervantes, that the film will create a reflection on Portugal and its history.”

Gabriele Salvatores’s Italy in a Day. Described as Italy’s first social media movie, it’s a collection of footage shot by Italians on October 26, 2013.

Ulrich Seidl‘s In the Basement. According to Seidl’s site, it “seeks to depict Austrians’ relationships with their basements and to define the specificities of Austrian basements—and if in fact such specificities exist. A filmic exploration of the daily lives of Austrian basements, the film will both unearth answers and throw up new questions, thereby shedding light on the hidden underground.”

Anthony Stacchi and Annable Graham’s The Boxtrolls. Official synopsis: “An orphaned boy raised by underground creatures called Boxtrolls comes up from the sewers and out of his box to save his family and the town from the evil exterminator, Arichibald Snatcher.”

Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac Volume II, Director’s Cut. “The first volume of his uncensored vision debuted earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival (our review),” notes the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth. “Venice is actually screening both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 director’s cuts for a combined running time of 5½ hours. Dang. Here’s the synopsis: ‘Nymphomaniac is the wild and poetic story of a woman’s journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe.'”


Naji Abu Nowar’s Theeb. From the Abu Dhabi Film Festival: “Hejaz Province, the Ottoman Empire, 1916. A Bedouin tribe roams the desert blissfully unaware the World is at War. Theeb, a mischievous young boy, spends his days playing with his older brother Hussein who tries to teach him to be a man. Their lives are interrupted by the arrival of Edward, a British Army Officer and his guide Marji. They have a mysterious request, to be guided to an ancient Roman Well found on the old pilgrimage route to Mecca. The well is in dangerous territory known as a hunting ground for outcast Bedouin raiders. Despite the perils Edward is determined to reach the well.”

Salome Alexi’s Line of Credit. Can’t seem to find even a hint for this one.

Michele Alhaique’s Senza Nessuna Pieta. According to the Italian Coming Soon, Mimmo’s a builder struggling with debt whose life is rattled even further when he meets and falls for Tania.

Michael Almereyda‘s Cymbeline. Based on Shakespeare’s play and starring Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Dakota Johnson and Milla Jovovich, it “unfolds as a battle between dirty cops and a drug-dealing biker gang set in a corruption-riddled 21st century America.” (THR)

Antonio Augugliaro, Gabriele del Grande and Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry’s On the Bride’s Side. Out of Competition. From the site: “A Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinians and Syrians in Milan who entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa after fleeing the war in Syria. They decide to help them complete their journey to Sweden—and hopefully avoid getting themselves arrested as traffickers—by faking a wedding.”

Renato De Maria’s Le Vita Oscena. Based on the novel by Aldo Nove, it’s a “psychedelic and visionary journey,” according to the synopsis. A young writer decides to depict the absurdity of life after his favorite poet chooses death.

Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern‘s Near Death Experience. Paraphrasing the French Premiere, Paul, in full burnout mode, takes a dire news broadcast on Friday the 13th as a signal to head to the mountains and shake up his life. With Michel Houellebecq.

Quentin Dupieux’s Réalité. From Variety‘s Elsa Keslassy: “Shot in Los Angeles in French and English, Reality is described by Indie Sales as an ‘examination of three degrees of reality’ intertwining the journeys of a trio: an eight-year-old girl who finds a mysterious VHS, Jason, a failed filmmaker shooting his first horror movie, and Denis, a culinary TV host who loses his self-confidence because of an imaginary skin disease.”

Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s Goodnight Mommy. From Ulrich Seidl’s site: “In the heat of the summer. A lonesome house in the countryside between woods and corn fields. Nine-year-old twin brothers are waiting for their mother. When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before. The children start to doubt that this woman is actually their mother. It emerges an existential struggle for identity and fundamental trust.”

Hong Sang-soo‘s Hill of Freedom. From AsianWiki: “A Japanese man arrives in Korea to find his old lover. While he stays at a guest house, he encounters various people.” With Ryô Kase, Moon Sori, Younghwa Seo and Kim Euisung.

Duane Hopkins’s Bypass. From the (rather lengthy) description on the Facebook page: “Bypass is a story of this era. It presents a world lived in by a significant minority of people, that speaks to the very real social, economic and moral fears of a growing mainstream of people. Bypass shows in graphic detail the life of Tim. His habits, his hustle, his family, his responsibilities, his conflicts, his hopes, his fears, his character, his existence. Through this we understand his present, and his past—and we consider his future.”

Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s The President. Opening Night. Shot in Tbilisi, Georgia, this is Makhmalbaf’s first narrative feature in five years. As Wendy Mitchell reported in February for Screen Daily, it’s “set in a fictional Caucasus country and is about a dictator whose regime is brought down by a coup d’etat. He and his young grandson have to travel across the country disguised as street musicians, and he gets to know the ordinary people he ruled in a new light.”

Ami Canaan Mann’s Your Right Mind. From Wikipedia: “Ryan, a modern day train hopper fighting to be a successful musician, and Jackie, a recent single mom battling to hold onto her daughter, defy their circumstances by coming together in a relationship that changes their lives forever.” With Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes.

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