Two Indian movies will screen at the 67th Venice Film Festival, opening on September 1.
Mani Ratnam’s Raavan in Hindi and Anurag Kashyap’s The Girl in Yellow Boots will play in out-of-Competition slots. Ratnam, who will be honoured by the Festival with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award, has already has premiered his movie in India, though to poor box-office returns and unflattering reviews. Both Abhishek Bachchan and wife Aishwarya Rai were panned for their below average performances.
It is the Tamil version of Ratnam’s work, Raavanan, that attracted somewhat kinder reviews and also did commercially better than the one in Hindi. An important reason for this was Vikram’s engaging style and markedly better acting skills than Bachchan’s. Yet, Venice has chosen to show the Hindi edition.
The Girl in Yellow Boots stars Kashyap’s girlfriend, Kalki Koechlin, Naseeruddin Shah, Gulshan Devaiya, Shivkumar Subramaniam, Divya Jagdale, Kumud Mishra and Kartik Krishnan among others. The movie has been written by Kashyap and Koechlin.
The plot, not exactly novel, centres on Ruth (Koechlin), searching for a father she has hardly seen, but cannot forget. Driven to desperation, she begins working without a legal permit in a Mumbai massage parlour, and Kashyap uses the city with its dark and forbidding underbelly to show how Ruth gets sucked into it.
The Festival will have 79 world premieres, including Kashyap’s work. The American contingent is ample, the European stack will be robust and the Asian representations are significant. All this will add up to a “meticulously calibrated mix of classic auteur and genre fare, plus more esoteric offerings”.
Julian Schnabel's Israel-Palestine conflict narrative Miral Sofia Coppola's father-daughter work Somewhere Monte Hellman's noir Road to Nowhere, Vincent Gallo's suicide drama Promises Written in Water, and Kelly Reichardt's Oregon Trail period piece Meek's Cutoff will vie for the prestigious Golden Lion.
Among Europe’s celebrated helmers will be Abdellatif Kechiche, Francois Ozon and Tom Tykwer, and the Asian canvas will project the films of Tsui Hark, Takashi Miike and Tran Anh Hung, among others.
Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller Black Swan, with Natalie Portman in the role of a New York City ballet dancer, will open Venice. The movie, one of the 22 competing entries, also stars Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis.
With an austerity drive in place on the Lido and no grand opening night party, the inaugural evening will unspool two more films: Robert Rodriguez's action picture Machete, and Andrew Lau's martial-arts story Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zen"
America will compensate for its poor show Cannes this May with six movies in Competition and 13 more in the other sections. Affleck's The Town, in which the actor essays a bank robber, Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones' Elia Kazan tribute documentary A Letter to Elia, Casey Affleck's directorial debut, I'm Still Here: the Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix, John Turturro's love letter to Neapolitan music, Passione and Julie Taymor's gender-bending The Tempest, with Helen Mirren that will close the Festival on September 11 are some of the Venetian gems.
The titles to look forward to from Europe include Kechiche's Black Venus, the true tale of 19th-century South African tribeswoman Sarah Baartman “who, due to her oversize physical features, was displayed as a naked circus freak”; Ozon's Potiche, a comedy starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu and Tom Tykwer's love triangle Three that takes place in Berlin. Another triangular affair to be seen is Spanish cult auteur Alex de la Iglesia's A Sad Trumpet Ballad, where two clowns fall in love with the same woman trapeze artist.
Asia will present cult Japanese director Miike's samurai swashbuckler Thirteen Assassins, Hong Kong helmer Hark's period mystery thriller Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame and Andrew Lau's martial arts flick Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zen.
One will also get to see two 3D films: The Child’s Eye by Hong Kong’s Pang Brothers and Shock Labyrinth by Japan’s Takashi Shimizu.