The start of a game of destructive dominoes for the fall festivals: Venice, Toronto and Deauville. A sign that the actors' strike in Hollywood is set to last, American studios are thinking twice before sending their flagship films to the circuit. Without the guarantee of being able to count on the stars of feature films to ensure promotion and offer an attractive red carpet, the financial investment of organizing an international premiere is dissuasive.
The producers of the daring sports comedy set in the world of tennis Challengers, in which Luca Guadagnino reunites Zendaya (Dune), Josh O'Connor (The Crown) and Mike Faist (West Side Story) in a love triangle, have thus given up opening the Venice Film Festival on August 30. Scheduled to hit theaters in the United States (but on Amazon Prime in France) on September 15, Challengers is now aiming for a launch in the summer of 2024.
To replace Challengers and open its 80th edition, the Mostra fell back on the historical drama Comandante by Italian director Edoardo De Angelis. The true story of an Italian submarine commander at the start of the Second World War who saved Belgian sailors from drowning, whose ship he had torpedoed. With 26 additional men on board, Commander Salvatore Todaro, who wanted to respect the code of honor of the navy, had to take the risk of going back to the surface. It is the new darling of the seventh transalpine art Pierfrancesco Favino (The Traitor, Last night in Milan) who lends his features to the naval officer.
The closing film, which will be screened on September 9, will be the Netflix disaster film La sociedad de la nieve by Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) which looks back on the famous crash, in 1972, in the Andes Cordillera of the Chilean rugby team. To survive, the survivors had to resort to extreme measures, including cannibalism.
Usual launching pad for the race for the Oscars, the Venice Film Festival should, because of the strike of actors and screenwriters banned from filming but also from promotion, experience a fairly small American presence and perhaps regain its Euro-Asian tropism of yesteryear.
For the moment Sofia Coppola maintains the Venetian premiere of her biopic Priscilla, on the idyll between Elvis Presley and his teenage wife. “But everything remains very fluid and can change at the last moment”, assures the specialized magazine Variety. The Mostra will announce its programming tomorrow, Tuesday July 25.
Is it out of caution? The Festival has set up a Golden Lion jury entirely made up of directors. The only profession that is not affected by the strike because their guild in Hollywood renewed their contract with the studios after quick negotiations. The president of this 80th edition is Damien Chazelle, the director of Babylon and La La Land.