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Venice Fest 2018 lineup: Where are all the women?

The annual Venice Film Festival has unleashed its full 2018 lineup ahead of the event’s kick off on August 29, offering a window into some of the major cinematic hits that’ll set the stage for awards season – and so the cycle continues. The festival’s artistic director Alberto Barbera revealed the roster today in Rome in what is being described as the “best lineup ever”, announcing some smashing hits as well as some stirring surprises.

While there certainly are a number of star-studded flicks headed to the Italian film fest (and several that could easily be accused of Oscar-baiting), there’s a hole in the lineup made all the more glaring by the industry’s focus on gender diversity in the post-MeToo era. That hole is the severe lack of female filmmakers. Yes, the upcoming edition of Venice Film Festival has nearly completely shut women out of its Competition lineup, with only one female director (Jennifer Kent) chosen in a slate of 21 films.

Meanwhile, among the 60 films picked as part of the festival’s Official Selection, only eight were directed by women. “Other female filmmakers represented on the slate include Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Mary Harron, Sarah Marx, and Margherita Ferri,” noted IndieWire. This is not all that surprising, as the annual event has averaged just one female selection in around 18 to 22 movies over the past six years.

And this isn’t down to a lack of submissions either. At the 2018 announcement press conference, Paolo Baratta, the president of the festival, noted that “21% of submissions were female, which reveals that a problem exists. The problem exists, but where does it exist? We need to make sure that women have the tools and opportunity to make films.”

This year more than ever a spotlight has been shone on the major festival players including Berlinale, Sundance, and Cannes following the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal, which has led to an increased focus on gender parity within the industry. And while there is progress being made, lineups such as the one presented by Venice fest show there’s still a long way to go.

That’s not to say there aren’t a number of movies added to the list with female-led casts (we’re looking at you, Suspiria) and some exciting new stories heading to the big screens of Venice – it just would’ve been nice to see a few more female filmmakers behind these stories too.

While we’re here, let’s look at the lineup and see who has been accepted by this elite Hollywood event – below you’ll find our top picks and underneath is the full lineup.


The Nightingale

Director: Jennifer Kent

Let’s start with the only female director in Competition, shall we? The Australian filmmaker returns with a followup to her epic psychological horror The Babadook with a gothic period thriller that looks set to be just as harrowing.

Based on betrayal, revenge, and violence, Sam Claflin, Damon Herriman, and Aisling Franciosi star in this 19th century-set story about an Irish convict who chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, as she seeks revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.


The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

Directors: The Coen Brothers

The biggest a-ha in the lineup announcement came in the shape of the Coen Brothers’ new venture. Surprise! Turns out The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs is going to be a film, a decision that has changed since the announcement earlier this year that it would be a Netflix anthology series. The Western drama telling various stories will be riding straight into Oscar season, with Tim Blake Nelson starring as the eponymous Scruggs.


First Man

Director: Damien Chazelle

Neil Armstrong’s moon-landing is a story that’s been told a thousand times over, but no doubt director Damien Chazelle of La La Land and Whiplash fame will give this biopic some of that Hollywood pizazz. With none other than Ryan Gosling starring as the historical figure himself, we can’t help but wonder if this is some sort of experiment in Oscar-baiting – but we’ll save our judgements for when it premieres later next month.


A Star Is Born

Director: Bradley Cooper

Actor-turned-director Cooper will be bringing his rendition of A Star Is Born to the Venice Film Festival, making it the third remake of the original 1937 film, having been adapted for a 1954 musical starring Judy Garland & James Mason and the subsequent 1976 rock musical with Barbra Streisand & Kris Kristofferson. Cooper’s directorial debut will see him lead as a movie star who helps a young singer and actress (portrayed by Lady Gaga) find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral. Will he hit the right notes with this already pitch-perfect story? Time will tell.


The Other Side Of The Wind

Director: Orson Welles

It looks like Venice Film Festival told Netflix “you can sit with us” following the streamer’s ongoing feud with Cannes, and as such, it has decided to bring along what is one of the most anticipated movies of the decade – iconic auteur Orson Welles’s unfinished masterpiece The Other Side of the Wind. Welles started to shoot the Hollywood satire in 1970 but died before it could be finished, leaving behind 1,080 reels of footage for the streaming giant to string together. Which it did, and Netflix is now set to bring the masterpiece to the big screen in all of its cinematic glory, star-filled cast and all.



Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Speaking of Netflix, director Alfonso Cuarón’s Netflix drama Roma stars Marina de Tavira, Yalitza Aparicio, and Daniela Demesa in this story that chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 70s. Explaining to IndieWire why he stood in as DP, Cuarón said: “Ninety percent of the scenes represented in the film are scenes taken out of my memory. Sometimes directly, sometimes a bit more obliquely. It’s about a moment of time that shaped me, but also a moment of time that shaped a country. It was the beginning of a long transition in Mexico.”



Director: Luca Guadagnino

A film that needs no introduction is Guadagnino’s bone-crunching remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 supernatural horror, set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival. With a cast boasting Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey), Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange), Mia Goth (Everest), Ingrid Caven (Looping), and Angela Winkler (Danton), the story follows a young ballerina who enrols in a prestigious European dance academy, only to discover occult secrets hidden within the department.

Exclusive footage of the remake shown at CinemaCon reportedly had the audience “looking away in horror”, portraying a young woman being brutally torn apart until there was nothing left but “a mess of broken bones, urine, spittle, and blood”. Yikes!



Director: Mike Leigh

Leigh returns with an epic historical telling of the UK’s infamous Peterloo 1819 massacre, which unfolded in the northern city of Manchester as the cavalry charged into a group of peaceful campaigners seeking parliamentary reform. As you’ll see by the trailer, it looks like Peterloo could be one of Leigh’s most ambitious movies to date. Starring Rory Kinnear, Maxine Peake, and Neil Bell.


The Favourite

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

While we’re on the topic of auteurs breaking into the period drama realm, Lanthimos is headed to the Italian city with his new movie The Favourite, the followup to The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Centering on a fight to the death for the body of Queen Anne between the Duchess of Marlborough, and her servant Abigail Hill, Lanthimos has taken on the talents of Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone respectively. And with a cast like that, it looks like the forthcoming period drama could be your new favorite. Get it? Good.


At Eternity’s Gate

Director: Julian Schnabel

Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh? Yes please! To be perfectly honest, like First Man, Van Gogh does seem like an easy target for an Oscars grab. But with Dafoe as the main man among a cast comprising Oscar Isaac and Mads Mikkelsen (oh sweet Lord, yes) and with Schnabel at the helm, we’ll give this project the benefit of the doubt and save our judgements for later.


You can find the full 2018 Venice Film Festival lineup below:


First Man, Damien Chazelle (Opening Film)

The Mountain, Rick Alverson

Doubles Vies, Olivier Assayas

The Sisters Brothers, Jacques Audiard

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Vox Lux, Brady Corbet

Roma, Alfonso Cuaron

22 July, Paul Greengrass

Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino

Opera Senza Autore, Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck

The Nightingale, Jennifer Kent

The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos

Peterloo, Mike Leigh

Capri-Revolution, Mario Martone

What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? Roberto Minervini

Sunset, Laszlo Nemes

Freres Ennemis, David Oelhoffen

Nuestro Tiempo, Carlos Reygadas

At Eternity’s Gate, Julian Schnabel

Acusada, Gonzalo Tobal

Killing, Shinya Tsukamoto

Out of Competition Special Events

My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante

The Other Side of the Wind, Orson Welles

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, Morgan Neville

Out of Competition Fiction

Dragged Across Concrete, S. Craig Zahler

Una Storia Senza Nome, Roberto Ando

Les Estivants, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi

A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper

Mi Obra Maestra, Gaston Duprat

A Tramway in Jerusalem, Amos Gitai

Un Peuple et Son Roi, Pierre Schoeller

La Quietud, Pablo Trapero

Shadow, Zhang Yimou

Out of Competition Nonfiction

A Letter to a Friend in Gaza, Amos Gitai

Aquarela, Victor Kossakovsky

El Pepe, Una Vida Suprema, Emir Kusturica

Process, Sergei Loznitsa

Carmine Street Guitars, Ron Mann

Isis, Tomorrow. The Lost Souls of Mosul., Francesca Mannocchi, Alessio Romenzi

American Dharma, Errol Morris

Introduzione All’Oscuro, Gaston Solnicki

Your Face, Tsai Ming-Liang

1938 Diversi, Giorgi Treves

Monrovia, Indiana, Frederick Wiseman

Una Storia Senza Nome, Roberto Ando

Les Estivants, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi

Horizons Competition

Sulla Mia Pelle, Alessio Cremonini (Opening Film)

Manta Ray, Phuttiphong Aroonpheng

Soni, Ivan Ayr

The River, Emir Baigazin

La Noche de 12 Anos, Alvaro Brechner

Deslembro, Flavia Castro

The Announcement, Mahmut Fazil Coskun

Un Giorno All’Improvviso, Ciro D’Emilio

Charlie Says, Mary Harron

Amanda, Mikhael Hers

The Day I Lost My Shadow, Soudade Kaadan

L’Enkas, Sarah Marx

The Man Who Surprised Everyone, Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov

Memories of My Body, Garin Nugroho

As I Lay Dying, Mostafa Sayyari

La Profezia Dell’Armadillo, Emanuele Scaringi

Stripped, Yaron Shani

Jinpa, Pema Tseden

Tel Aviv on Fire, Sameh Zoabi


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