78th Venice International Film Festival

09/01/2021

Festival Reviews

The Stranger

The Stranger

Palestine’s 2022 Oscar submission is a brooding story of lives in limbo in the Golan Heights, stunningly shot and wrenching in its moving evocation of a man mired in self-loathing and paralyzed by the physical and existential no-man’s land resulting in the Israeli occupation and the disaster in Syria.

The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s bold cinematic interpretation of Thomas Savage’s novel about cattle ranchers in 1920’s Montana is a sensuous, aestheticized Netflix release, whose meticulous detail and gay subplot are admirable but a little tiring.

Vera Dreams of the Sea

Vera Dreams of the Sea

Kosovo’s Kaltrina Krasniqi makes an impressive feature debut with this beautifully measured drama about a once-compliant 60-something widow who attempts to deflect the malevolent traditional patriarchy in a nation on the edge of change.

Django & Django

Django & Django

Quentin Tarantino explains his love for Sergio Corbucci’s Spaghetti Westerns and reveals a lot about his own work in the process in Luca Rea’s irresistible, eye-opening documentary.

Full Time

Full Time

Life is more than a little hectic for the protagonist of Full Time (Temps plein), a single mother of two who’s trying to keep down one job while trying to find another as traffic strikes wreak further havoc on her ability to juggle all her duties. This naturalistic...

Venice 2021: The Verdict

Venice 2021: The Verdict

When Roberto Cicutto, president of La Biennale di Venezia, admitted on stage at the 78th awards ceremony that the last two Venice Film Festivals came close to not happening, he put his finger on the miracle on the Lido. A huge, unwieldy Italian festival got through...

Miracle

Miracle

There are two movies in Miracle, Bogdan George Apetri’s uneven, beautifully shot drama divided between a young religious novice’s ordeal when seeking an abortion and the police investigation that follows her brutal rape. The first part, characterized by an admirable...

Another World

Another World

In 2015, craggy-faced actor Vincent Lindon won the Cannes Best Actor nod for his role as a laid-off employee in The Measure of a Man, directed by Stéphane Brizé in their third collaboration. In 2018, they reunited again for At War, in which Lindon played a man...

On the Job: The Missing 8

On the Job: The Missing 8

A Venice competition slot seems like a strange place for On the Job: The Missing 8, a punishingly long corruption thriller from Filipino genre master Erik Matti that’s soon to be seen as an HBO Asia Original six-episode mini-series. Following on – but not actually a...

America Latina

America Latina

Elio Germano plays a mild-mannered dentist who discovers a girl is tied up in his basement in Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo’s (‘Favolacce’) absurdist psychological thriller.

Leave No Traces

Leave No Traces

The first shot of Leave No Traces may make you think you’re at a retrospective of one of the great Polish filmmakers from forty or more years ago, so perfect is the recreation. It takes place in a shadowy Warsaw bedroom in 1983, and the stillness, warm tonalities and...

The Catholic School

The Catholic School

Stefano Mordini’s unconvincing ensemble drama searches for the origins of evil that provoked the Circeo massacre of two girls in 1975 and rattled upper class Rome.

Captain Volkonogov Escaped

Captain Volkonogov Escaped

In a vividly dystopic 1938 Leningrad under Stalin’s Great Purge, a young NKVD torturer tries to save his soul, in co-directors Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov’s high-energy parable ‘Captain Volkonogov Escaped’.

Freaks Out

Freaks Out

There’s a reaction shot in Mel Brooks’ The Producers when the open-mouthed audience watches the “Springtime for Hitler” number in shocked disbelief, amazed that something so crass and campy could have made it on Broadway. The scene is hilarious because Brooks knows...

107 Mothers

107 Mothers

Slovak documentary director Peter Kerekes (Velvet Terrorists) makes the jump into the (semi-)fictional realm with 107 Mothers (Cenzorka), which explores the world of mothers behind bars through the stories of several female inmates and a warden at an Odessa jail....

Madeleine Collins

Madeleine Collins

Leading a double life is no longer the dominion of spies in French director Antoine Barraud’s mystery-cum-character study Madeleine Collins, in which a woman tries to keep two families with kids going in two different countries at the same time. It’s a tough balancing...

The Box

The Box

The titular box that young Mexican teen Hatzin (newcomer Hatzin Navarrete) picks up containing his father’s remains may look like a simple mini-casket, but the emotional baggage that goes with it is far weightier than what’s inside. In the third and final installment...

Happening

Happening

A student in 1960s provincial France has to deal with an unwanted pregnancy in a very hostile environment in Happening, the intimate but hard-hitting second feature from filmmaker Audrey Diwan. This adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s semi-autobiographical novel is...

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon

A psychotic girl with lethal powers walks anywhere she pleases at night in Ana Lily Amirpour’s occasionally amusing but mostly treadless fantasy, ‘Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon.’

Lost Illusions

Lost Illusions

There’s a shot, quite late into Xavier Giannoli’s lengthy adaptation of Balzac’s Lost Illusions, that sees the protagonist, a broke young writer, get out of bed naked after having slept with a former lover, a lady from the provincial aristocracy. It is crystal clear...

Sundown

Sundown

The controversy stirred up by Michel Franco’s previous film ‘New Order’ will be partly placated and partly reignited in ‘Sundown’, the story of English tourists (Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg) in Mexico.

Official Competition

Official Competition

Two titans of acting, one a highly esteemed cerebral actor and the other a popular Hollywood star, are cast opposite each other for the first time by an oddball director in Official Competition (Competencia oficial). This frothy Venice competition title casts Penélope...

Il Buco

Il Buco

The symbiotic relationship between people of the land and their environment is the basis of all Michelangelo Frammartino’s work, most strikingly seen in his 2010 second feature Le Quattro Volte, a surprise international arthouse success. His hallmarks – unfussy,...

Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho

A girl’s exhilarating mind-trip through swinging London of the Sixties turns wild and woolly and full of zombies in ‘Last Night in Soho’, Edgar Wright’s multi-genre treat, co-starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie.

The Stranger

The Stranger

Palestine’s 2022 Oscar submission is a brooding story of lives in limbo in the Golan Heights, stunningly shot and wrenching in its moving evocation of a man mired in self-loathing and paralyzed by the physical and existential no-man’s land resulting in the Israeli occupation and the disaster in Syria.

The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s bold cinematic interpretation of Thomas Savage’s novel about cattle ranchers in 1920’s Montana is a sensuous, aestheticized Netflix release, whose meticulous detail and gay subplot are admirable but a little tiring.

Vera Dreams of the Sea

Vera Dreams of the Sea

Kosovo’s Kaltrina Krasniqi makes an impressive feature debut with this beautifully measured drama about a once-compliant 60-something widow who attempts to deflect the malevolent traditional patriarchy in a nation on the edge of change.

Awards Corner

Venice

  • Golden Lion for Best Film
    Happening (France)
    Director: Audrey Diwan
  • Silver Lion for Grand Jury Prize
    The hand of god (Italy)
    Director: Paolo Sorrentino
  • Silver Lion for Best Director
    The Power of the Dog (New Zeland, Australia, Canada, UK, USA)
    Director: Jane Campion
  • Special Jury Prize for Special Jury Price
    Il Buco (Germany, Italy, France)
    Director: Michelangelo Frammartino
  • Award for Best Screenplay
    The Lost Daughter (Greece, USA)
    Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Coppa Volpi for Best Actress
    Madres Paraleles (Spain)
    Penelope Cruz
  • Coppa Volpi for Best Actor
    On the job: Missing 8 (Philippines)
    John Arcilla
  • Marcelo Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress
    The hand of god (Italy)
    Filippo Scotti