That’s a Wrap: Film festival lineups shape up fall

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By Tamara Dunn – [email protected]

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers in a scene from ‘A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood.’ The Mr. Rogers biopic will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Lacey Terrell | Sony-Tristar Pictures via AP

Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera, left, and Venice Biennale President Paolo Baratta meet the journalists on the occasion of the official presentation of the 76th edition of the festival in Rome on July 25. The Venice Film Festival will run from Aug. 28 through Sept. 7 at the Venice Lido.
Domenico Stinellis | Associated Press

This image released by Netflix shows Joe Pesci, left, and Robert De Niro in a scene from ‘The Irishman.’ The film will make its world premiere at opening night of the New York Film Festival on Sept. 27.
Niko Tavernise | Netflix via AP

This image released by STXfilms shows Lili Reinhart, from left, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, and Constance Wu in a scene from ‘Hustlers.’ The film will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
STXfilms via AP

Summer isn’t over yet, but awards season is already taking shape thanks to news from the top film festivals on the horizon. Venice, Toronto and New York have their big-name entries already announced and will help shape what to expect in local theaters this fall and winter. It’s also the time when Academy Award frontrunners and hopefuls enter the waters, and specialized audiences have a chance to see the biggest stars and directors in a short time. Let’s take a look at what these festivals are offering.

Venice

The world’s oldest film festival kicks off the season Aug. 28 with Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s French language film, “The Truth.” Starring Catherine Deneuve, Ethan Hawke and Juliette Binoche, “The Truth” is about a film star (Deneuve) with a problematic relationship with her daughter (Binoche) who is a screenwriter. When the mother releases her tell-all memoir, the two explode. Kore-eda is no stranger to film festivals, as his last film, 2018’s “Shoplifters,” won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival.

The 21-film in-competition lineup includes Hollywood heavyweights, including James Gray’s “Ad Astra” with Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones in the astronaut film about a threat approaching Earth, Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” with Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as a creative couple on the brink of divorce and Todd Phillips’ “Joker” with Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic villain. These will compete for the Golden Lion.

The 76th annual festival is also surrounded with controversy as only two films in competition are directed by women: “The Perfect Candidate” by Saudi Arabian director Haifaa al-Mansour and “Babyteeth” by Australian filmmaker Shannon Murphy. Sadly, that’s double the number from last year. Also in competition is Roman Polanski’s French film “An Officer and a Spy” with Jean Dujardin and Mathieu Amalric. Polanski had been expelled from the film Academy following the rise of the #MeToo movement. Netflix has two titles in competition; besides producing “Marriage Story,” the streaming giant is debuting Steven Soderbergh’s “The Laundromat” with Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman.

The festival closes with “The Burnt Orange Heresy” by Italian director Giuseppe Capotondi. The thriller about an art critic who is also a thief stars Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger, and Donald Sutherland. Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel is jury president.

Venice has been a launching pad for films that would go on to win big at the Oscars, including “Roma,” “The Favourite,” “La La Land” and “Gravity.”

Toronto

While it’s one of the world’s largest festivals, many films can shine brighter than others at the Toronto International Film Festival. Sharing a few days with Venice, TIFF can make or break a movie’s awards season. Films like “Green Book,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Slumdog Millionaire” were nobodies until they won the People’s Choice Award. Canadian documentary “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” will open the festival on Sept. 5, and the Marie Curie biopic “Radioactive,” starring Rosamund Pike and directed by Marjane Satrapi, closes it on Sept. 15. There is a mix of premiere on global and North American levels as well as flashy, red carpet entries and humble documentaries.

Unlike Venice, there are several women directors who are given a large platform for their films. Marielle Heller brings the highly anticipated Fred Rogers biopic “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” with Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys. Kasi Lemmons helms “Harriet,” about the Underground Railroad and military heroine Harriet Tubman. Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer and Lizzo play strippers who scam Wall Street figures in Lorene Scafaria’s “Hustlers.” Alma Har’el directs Shia LeBeouf in “Honey Boy,” which premiered earlier this year at Sundance. Following an impressive showing at Cannes is “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” by Céline Sciamma, and “Open Season” director Jill Culton leads her second animated film “Abominable.” Women directors are also highly represented in documentary and world cinema categories.

Early award contenders and high-profile names will also take part in TIFF. Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in the auto racing rivalry film “Ford v. Ferrari” by James Mangold. Director John Crowley brings the film adaptation of “The Goldfinch” to Toronto with Ansel Elgort and Nicole Kidman about a boy who loses his mother in a museum bombing and experiences the aftermath of surviving the attack. “The Song of Names,” starring Tim Roth and Clive Owen looks at the impact of World War II on a group of friends. Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville appear in Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s romantic drama “Ordinary Love. Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson tell the true story of a man accused of murder and the attorney who defends him in director Destin Daniel Cretton’s “Just Mercy.” “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi makes Adolf Hitler an imaginary friend in “Jojo Rabbit.”

Meryl Streep will receive the festival’s first-ever acting award for her body of work.

New York and beyond

A bit of Northeastern Pennsylvania will open the New York Film Festival on Sept. 27 with Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in “The Irishman,” based on Charles Brandt’s “I Heard You Paint Houses.” The Netflix-produced film features Russell Bufalino, played by Pesci, who was head of the locally run Bufalino crime family. It will be the eagerly anticipated film’s world premiere. Serving as the festival’s centerpiece is another Netflix movie “Marriage Story.” With its presence at three big-profile festivals, it can already be called an awards season frontrunner. The festival’s closer is Edward Norton’s passion project, “Motherless Brooklyn,” with Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis and Leslie Mann about a detective with Tourette syndrome.

“Atlantics: A Ghost Story” by Senegalese director Mati Diop, Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory” and Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” won rave reviews when they debuted at Cannes this summer and will be shown at NYFF. The late Agnès Varda has an autobiographical film in the lineup “Varda by Agnès” that the festival calls a fitting farewell for the groundbreaking director. NYFF favorites Olivier Assayas and Arnaud Desplechin return with “The Wasp Network” and “Oh Mercy!” respectively. The festival ends Oct. 13.

The BFI London Film Festival opens Oct. 2 with Armando Iannucci’s “The Personal History of David Cooperfield” starring Dev Patel in the title role. “The Irishman” is its closer. More of the festival’s lineup will be announced in the coming days. Telluride, Savannah and American Film Institute lineups have yet to be released.

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers in a scene from ‘A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood.’ The Mr. Rogers biopic will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/web1_AP19204549536004.jpgThis image released by Sony Pictures shows Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers in a scene from ‘A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood.’ The Mr. Rogers biopic will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Lacey Terrell | Sony-Tristar Pictures via AP

Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera, left, and Venice Biennale President Paolo Baratta meet the journalists on the occasion of the official presentation of the 76th edition of the festival in Rome on July 25. The Venice Film Festival will run from Aug. 28 through Sept. 7 at the Venice Lido.

https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/web1_AP19206381326911.jpgDirector of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera, left, and Venice Biennale President Paolo Baratta meet the journalists on the occasion of the official presentation of the 76th edition of the festival in Rome on July 25. The Venice Film Festival will run from Aug. 28 through Sept. 7 at the Venice Lido. Domenico Stinellis | Associated Press

This image released by Netflix shows Joe Pesci, left, and Robert De Niro in a scene from ‘The Irishman.’ The film will make its world premiere at opening night of the New York Film Festival on Sept. 27.

https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/web1_AP19210542924265.jpgThis image released by Netflix shows Joe Pesci, left, and Robert De Niro in a scene from ‘The Irishman.’ The film will make its world premiere at opening night of the New York Film Festival on Sept. 27. Niko Tavernise | Netflix via AP

This image released by STXfilms shows Lili Reinhart, from left, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, and Constance Wu in a scene from ‘Hustlers.’ The film will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/web1_AP19204610912112.jpgThis image released by STXfilms shows Lili Reinhart, from left, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, and Constance Wu in a scene from ‘Hustlers.’ The film will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. STXfilms via AP

Tamara Dunn is the night news editor at the Times Leader. She is also a film lover who counts “Rear Window” and “Black Panther” as her favorites.