Quantcast
Connect with us

Star-studded Venice film festival opens under cloud of controversy

Published

on

The glitzy Venice film festival opens Wednesday with fury over the inclusion of controversial directors Roman Polanski and Nate Parker adding to criticism about a lack of women directors in the running for its top prize.

The rows threaten to take some of the sheen off a selection featuring a bumper crop of major stars including Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Kristen Stewart, Meryl Streep and Scarlett Johansson at the festival — a launchpad for the Oscars.

ADVERTISEMENT

Having been pilloried for including only one woman director in 2018, the festival has two women out of 21 in the running for this year’s Golden Lion top prize.

Festival director Alberto Barbera said last year that he would rather quit the 11-day event — where three of the last five Oscar best picture winners were premiered — than give in to pressure for quotas.

This year the row over gender disparity has been compounded by a selection that has sparked particular fury — that of Polanski, who was convicted for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old in 1978.

The inclusion in a sidebar event of US director Parker, who was embroiled in a rape trial while still at university, has also sparked criticism.

Melissa Silverstein, founder of Women and Hollywood, has accused the festival organisers of being “completely tone-deaf”.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We all know that the world has changed post #metoo,” she told AFP.

“Programming decisions are deliberate and very thought through. None of this information is hidden. The question I ask is, ‘Is this a lack of awareness or deliberate indifference?'”

– ‘New sensitivity’ –

ADVERTISEMENT

Barbera has defended the line-up, saying that “numerous films this year deal with the theme of the feminine condition in the world which, even when directed by men, reveal a new sensitivity.”

He added this was proof that high-profile scandals had “left their mark”.

ADVERTISEMENT

AFP/File / LOIC VENANCE Legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve stars in Venice opener “The Truth”, a family story set in France also starring Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke

The 76th Venice festival opens with Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “The Truth”, starring French heavyweights Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, about a French cinema star whose decision to publish her memoirs prompts a mother-daughter reunion which turns fiery.

Saudi Arabia’s Haifaa al-Mansour, the maker of the acclaimed “Wadjda”, is one of the two women directors vying for the top prize.

Her film “The Perfect Candidate” tells the story of a doctor trying to become her town’s first female candidate in elections in the conservative kingdom.

ADVERTISEMENT

GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Dia Dipasupil Meryl Streep stars in Steven Soderbergh’s take on the Panama Papers investigation, “The Laundromat”

Newcomer Shannon Murphy is the other female contender, with her Australian comedy-drama “Babyteeth”.

Stars Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz and Robert De Niro are due on the red carpet at the Lido, where the curtain will also come up on the new DC Comics blockbuster, “The Joker”.

Trailers for the film starring Joaquin Phoenix, which traces the origins of Batman’s nemesis, have already been viewed more than 80 million times.

Steven Soderbergh’s take on the Panama Papers investigation, “The Laundromat”, will also been premiered, while Pitt plays an astronaut in James Gray’s highly anticipated sci-fi drama “Ad Astra.”

ADVERTISEMENT

– Fury over Polanski, Parker –

Parker’s 2016 debut film about a slave revolt, “The Birth of a Nation”, was derailed after it emerged that he was accused of raping a fellow student, who later killed herself.

Parker was acquitted, but he later said when “I look back on that time as a teenager and can say without hesitation that I should have used more wisdom.”

GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / SPENCER PLATT Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to two new charges of sexual predatory assault on Monday as a judge postponed his trial to 2020 

Fellow black American director Spike Lee has vowed to travel to Venice to support Parker, whose film “American Skin” tells the story of a Marine veteran whose son is killed by police.

ADVERTISEMENT

But it is the premiere of 85-year-old Polanski’s historical thriller about the persecution of the French Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus, “An Officer and a Spy”, which is likely to make most headlines.

With Polanski suing the Academy of Motion Pictures for stripping him of his membership, Screen Daily’s chief critic Fionnuala Halligan was withering about his selection.

She imagined festival director “Barbera, wandering the Lido hopelessly, singing the same mournful refrain… he can’t find a female film director.

“So this year he’s going to programme the new film by (a) convicted child rapist.”

The festival opens as the accusations that sparked America’s #MeToo movement are back in the spotlight.

ADVERTISEMENT

Harvey Weinstein, once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, pleaded not guilty to two new charges of sexual predatory assault Monday, as a judge postponed his trial to 2020.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump is going through a mental health crisis that makes his judgment even more impulsive and ‘catastrophic’: psychologist

Published

on

The first week of public impeachment hearings against Donald Trump in the House of Representatives has concluded. Despite the obsessive efforts of Trump’s Republican Party minions, his personal spokespeople and the right-wing disinformation media, the facts are clear: Multiple witnesses independently report that Donald Trump abused the power of the presidency for personal gain in an effort to bribe and extort the president of Ukraine into aiding his re-election campaign.

This article first appeared in Salon.As documented by Robert Mueller's report, the Ukraine scandal is part of a long pattern by Donald Trump and his supplicants to seek out foreign assistance to subvert American democracy, with the goal of first installing Trump in power and then keeping him there.

Continue Reading

Facebook

North Korea will not hold ‘useless’ summits with US: KCNA

Published

on

Another summit between North Korea and the US would be "useless" unless Washington offers new concessions in their nuclear negotiations, Pyongyang said Monday, hours after Donald Trump hinted at the prospect.

"You should act quickly, get the deal done," Trump tweeted Sunday, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "See you soon!"

Kim and Trump have met three times since June last year, but talks have been gridlocked since their Hanoi summit in February broke up in disagreement over sanctions relief, while October's working-level talks rapidly broke down in Sweden.

Pyongyang has set Washington a deadline of the end of the year to come forward with a fresh offer, and foreign ministry advisor Kim Kye Gwan said the US was "buying time while acting as if it has achieved progress".

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Samoa makes measles vaccine mandatory to stop deadly outbreak

Published

on

Samoa finalised plans for a compulsory measles vaccination programme Monday, after declaring a state of emergency as a deadly epidemic sweeps the Pacific nation.

At least six fatalities, including five children, have been linked to the outbreak of the virus, which has also hit other island states such as Tonga and Fiji.

Samoa is the worst affected with more than 700 cases reported from across all areas of the country, prompting the government on Friday to invoke emergency powers.

Declaring a state of emergency, the government said plans for compulsory measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisations would be published on Monday.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image