Ai Weiwei, Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence to star at Venice film fest

ROME, Alvise Armellini (dpa)- The world's oldest cinema jamboree features a quite "extraordinary" documentary on migration, Hollywood productions likely to compete for the 2018 Oscars, the latest art house offerings and a new virtual reality section. Get ready for the Venice Film Festival!
World-renowned Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei will join the red carpet crowd at this year's Venice Film Festival, which, starting Wednesday, will attract the likes of George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence.

Weiwei's "Human Flow," a documentary about the global migration crisis, shot in 23 different countries, will be one of 21 films competing for the top Golden Lion award. Festival director Alberto Barbera has described it as "quite extraordinary."
Other notable films in competition at the August 30-September 9 festival include Guillermo Del Toro's "The Shape of Water," and Clooney's "Suburbicon," based on an old script by the Coen brothers and starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac.
Damon also leads in the opening film "Downsizing," directed by Alexander Payne, alongside Christoph Waltz. The sci-fi satire about the shrinking of humans in a future overpopulated world is another Golden Lion hopeful and likely contender for the next Oscars.
"Mother!" by maverick US film-maker Darren Aronofsky, also in competition, is hotly anticipated. It is a horror movie starring Lawrence, Javier Bardem and Michelle Pfeiffer, but its plot is shrouded in secrecy for fear of spoilers.
More art house offerings vying for the top prize are "Mekthoub, My Love: Canto Uno" by France's Abdellatif Kechiche - whose lesbian coming-of-age story "Blue is the Warmest Colour" won the 2013 Cannes Film Festival - and "The Third Master" by Japan's Koreeda Hirokazu.
In the out-of-competition category, "Loving Pablo" will see Bardem starring as notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and Bardem's real-life wife Penelope Cruz as the star journalist who becomes his lover.
British director Stephen Frears will pick up a career prize and present "Victora and Abdul," about the real-life friendship between Queen Victoria and an Indian Muslim servant. The movie, also out of competition, features Judi Dench, who starred in Frears' "Philomena."
Jane Fonda and Robert Redford will revive their on-screen chemistry in "Our Souls at Night," an out-of-competition Netflix drama about a widower and a widow who develop a relationship. The two will also pick up Golden Lion career awards.
Several documentaries will get a Venice debut, including a three-hour feature on the New York Public Library by Frederick Wiseman - a master of the genre - and "The Devil and Father Amorth," a study of a famous devil-chaser by "The Exorcist" director William Friedkin.
In an innovation, the festival has a section for virtual reality films. Works selected include "The Deserted," by past Golden Lion winner Tsai Ming-Liang, and "La Camera Insabbiata" by new media artist Huang Hsin-Chien and Lou Reed widow's, Laurie Anderson.
The Venice Film Festival, established in 1932, is the oldest in the world, and traditionally offers a mix of star-filled blockbusters and obscure productions. In recent years, it served as launch pad for several Oscar contenders, including last year's "La La Land."
Sienna Miller, Kirsten Dunst, Chloe Sevigny, Frances McDormand, Helen Mirren, Charlotte Rampling, Vince Vaughn, Ethan Hawke, Jim Carrey, Donald Sutherland and Michael Caine are some of the other stars due to make an appearance.
The jury, headed by US actress Annette Bening, is scheduled to announce festival winners on September 9.

Friday, August 25th 2017
Alvise Armellini

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