The 70th Venice Film Festival boasts the strongest Australian contingent of films in two decades, with four films world premiering across various programs. It marks “a growing relationship between our country and the world's oldest film festival,” says Screen Australia's Head of Marketing Kathleen Drumm. “We are thrilled to have such a diverse, strong group of Australian films showcased in Venice."
Anything, of course, would beat Bait 3D, our sole entry on the Lido last year. Greg McLean's Wolf Creek 2, his follow-up to 2005's Wolf Creek with John Jarratt again as the inimitable serial killer Mick Taylor, should be a vast improvement in the same Midnight program.
Australia's major coup, though, is securing a competition birth for John Curran's Tracks, which will world premiere in Venice before heading for Toronto and of course opening the Adelaide Film Festival in October.
[ Related: Tracks to open the Adelaide Film Festival ]
After premiering Hail two years ago on the Lido, Amiel Courtin-Wilson returns with Michael Cody to present their new feature, Ruin, a low-budget drama set in Cambodia. As with Hail, the film will screen in Orizzonti, a section dedicated to emerging filmmakers.
Ukraine is Not a Brothel, directed and produced by Kitty Green, will screen Out of Competition. The feature documentary offers an intimate look into the lives of Ukraine's topless feminist sensation Femen, a movement against patriarchy that has taken the European media by storm.
The only Australian actor I can find in a non-Australian film is that fabulous two-time Oscar nominee, Jacki Weaver, who appears alongside Zac Efron in Parkland, written and directed by Peter Landesman. Landesman makes his directing debut with this recounting of the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas's Parkland Hospital on the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
Kim Ki-Duk, who won the Golden Lion last year for Pieta, is back with Moebius, which has been banned by the South Korean ratings board, reportedly due to scenes of self-castration and incest, notes Variety. After his success with The Queen in 2006, Stephen Frears returns with Philomena, a fact-based adoption drama starring Judi Dench as a mother searching for the son she gave up. After presenting Meek's Cutoff starring Michelle Williams in 2010, Kelly Reichardt returns with Night Moves, an eco-terrorist drama starring Dakota Fanning and Jesse Eisenberg.
The Venice program is strong on documentaries this year and two of the festival's best films may well be Errol Morris' The Unknown Known: The Life And Times Of Donald Rumsfeld and Alex Gibney's The Armstrong Lie—who better to pull apart the life of the world's most infamous cyclist? Four years in the making, incredibly the film started out as the story of Armstrong's comeback and instead Gibney clearly chronicles his demise.
The Rooftops, dir: Merzak Allouache
L'intrepido, dir: Gianni Amelio
Miss Violence, dir: Alexandros Avranas
Tracks, dir: John Curran
Via Castellana Bandiera, dir: Emma Dante
Tom At The Farm, dir: Xavier Dolan
Child Of God, dir: James Franco
Philomena, dir: Judi Dench
La Jalousie, dir: Philippe Garrel
The Zero Theorem, dir: Terry Gilliam
Ana Arabia, dir: Amos Gitai
Under The Skin, dir: Jonathan Glazer
Joe, dir: David Gordon Green
The Police Officer's Wife, dir: Philip Groning
Parkland, dir: Peter Landesman
Kaze Tachinu, dir: Hayao Miyazaki
The Unknown Known: The Life And Times Of Donald Rumsfeld, dir: Errol Morris
Night Moves, dir: Kelly Reichardt
Sacro Gra, dir: Gianfranco Rosi
Stray Dogs, Tsai Ming-liang
Out of Competition
Space Pirate Captain Harlock, dir: Aramaki Shinji
Gravity, dir: Alfonso Cuaron
Moebius, dir: Kim Ki-duk
Locke, dir: Steven Knight
Unforgiven, dir: Lee Sang-il
Wolf Creek 2, dir: Greg Mclean
Home From Home – Chronicle Of A Vision, dir: Edgar Reitz
Gondola, dirs: Paul Rudish, Aaron Springer, Clay Morrow
The Canyons, dir: Paul Schrader
Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico Scola Racconta Fellini, dir: Ettore Scola
Walesa. Man Of Hope, dirs: Andrzej Wajda, Ewa Brodzka
Out of Competition: Documentaries
Summer '82 When Zappa Came To Sicily, dir: Salvo Cuccia
Pine Ridge, dir: Vanessa Piper
The Armstrong Lie, dir: Alex Gibney
Redemption, dir: Miguel Gomes
Ukraine Is Not A Brothel, dir: Kitty Green
Con Il Fiato Sospeso, dir: Costanza Quatriglio
Amazonia, dir: Thierry Ragobert
La Voce Di Berlinguer, dirs: Mario Sesti, Teho Teardo
'Til Madness Do Us Apart, dir: Wang Bing
At Berkeley, dir: Frederick Wiseman
The 2013 Venice Film Festival takes place from August 28 – 7 September. Visit the official website for more information.
(Wolf Creek 2 image credit: Mark Rogers)