79th Venice International Film Festival

08/31/2021

Festival Reviews

No Bears

No Bears

The world premiere of Jafar Panahi’s simple but militantly engrossing ‘No Bears’, which comes to grips with the thin line between art and reality, took place in Venice competition while the director remained in prison in Tehran after his second arrest on July 11.

Our Ties

Our Ties

The sixth feature from French actor-director Roschdy Zem, co-written by co-star Maïwenn, feels like it’s on autopilot most of the time.

Clare

Clare

Susanna Nicchiarelli’s biopic of Saint Clare seems less interested in religion than a lesbian-nun spectacle like Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Benedetta.’

Venice Immersive

Venice Immersive

The Venice Film Festival was the first major film festival to dedicate a special section to Virtual Reality (VR) that wasn’t an ad-hoc event. The entire VR community of producers, artists, buyers, sellers and exhibition people now congregate in Venice each year to...

Blonde

Blonde

Pre-release hype will be the biggest friend to this mess of a pseudo-biopic that reduces Marilyn Monroe to a disturbed child-woman with Daddy issues, never offering a glimpse of the screen magic notwithstanding Ana de Armas’ impressive recreation.

Beyond the Wall

Beyond the Wall

A shattering drama that courageously portrays Iran as a violent Big Brother police state, Vahid Jalilvand’s third film is a shrill, breath-taking mind-trip driven by between two exceptional actors, Navid Mohammadzadeh and Diana Habibi.

The Son

The Son

French playwright-turned-film director Florian Zeller (‘The Father’), again adapts his own play, here starring Hugh Jackman, and the result is a solid drama that unravels in the home stretch.

Saint Omer

Saint Omer

Alice Diop’s superb fiction debut is a marvel of control and depth, using the trial of a Senegalese woman guilty of killing her infant to honestly explore the complexities of motherhood while foregrounding it all within France’s racist currents.

World War III

World War III

A manual day laborer is selected to play Hitler in a film, but this stroke of “luck” leads to terrible tragedies on the film set in Houman Seyedi’s expertly crafted, realistic/metaphoric tale about authoritarian society.

Vera

Vera

Award-winning documentary team Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel plunge deep into the heart of the adult daughter of spaghetti western star Giuliano Gemma in a wonderfully touching film portrait that tips its Stetson at the illusory side of documentaries.

Call of God

Call of God

A young woman’s first love turns out to be a bad dream in the final film of South Korean master Kim Ki-duk, a visually striking if (for Kim) restrained relationship film that was posthumously completed by Estonian producer and director Artur Veeber.

When the Waves Are Gone

When the Waves Are Gone

Philippine auteur Lav Diaz offers a damning and doomed critique of the violent state of his country through the on-screen physical and psychological disintegration of a policeman weighed down by the guilt of his officially-sanctioned murderous past in ‘When the Waves Are Gone’.

In Viaggio

In Viaggio

Italy’s premier documaker Gianfranco Rosi turns his attention to Pope Francis and his non-stop foreign travels, stressing the ecumenical core of his messaging as he comments on the world’s horrors.

The Whale

The Whale

In a career-best performance, Brendan Fraser turns Darren Aronofsky’s apartment-bound drama about an unhappy English teacher crippled by obesity and his daughter’s distance into a classic piece of filmmaking whose emotions are truly immense.

Immensity

Immensity

Penélope Cruz is a joy as a 1970s mother whose free spirit is frozen by her husband’s stereotyped insensitivity, yet other elements of Emanuele Crialese’s film, which is equally focused on the daughter’s certainty she was born the wrong gender, are less transcendent.

Nezouh

Nezouh

Touches of magical realism aren’t enough to hold together this well-meaning yet clumsy story of an adolescent girl in war-torn Damascus whose father refuses to accept that changed circumstances make his pose as the family guardian irrelevant.

Master Gardener

Master Gardener

A timely occasion to foreground the growing role of American extremists like the Proud Boys is largely manqué in Paul Schrader’s unconvincing story about a marked man trying to redeem himself, starring Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver.

Blue Jean

Blue Jean

Georgia Oakley’s debut feature is at times a little clumsy but it’s also the work of an interesting new voice in British cinema with a flair for expressive images.

No Bears

No Bears

The world premiere of Jafar Panahi’s simple but militantly engrossing ‘No Bears’, which comes to grips with the thin line between art and reality, took place in Venice competition while the director remained in prison in Tehran after his second arrest on July 11.

Our Ties

Our Ties

The sixth feature from French actor-director Roschdy Zem, co-written by co-star Maïwenn, feels like it’s on autopilot most of the time.

Clare

Clare

Susanna Nicchiarelli’s biopic of Saint Clare seems less interested in religion than a lesbian-nun spectacle like Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Benedetta.’

Awards Corner

Venice

  • 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