From the canals to the Croisette, organizers of the Venice Film Festival came to Cannes to announce initial entries for this increasingly important stop on the road to Oscar. Last year "The Queen" and "Children of Men" premiered in Venice, while in 2005, "Brokeback Mountain," "Good Night, and Good Luck," and "The Constant Gardener" started their campaigns there.
This year's dates: August 29 to September 9. With organizers promising a slate that will be at least one-third American, expect many more Oscar hopefuls to join the two already named.
First: "I'm Not There" — Todd Haynes' audacious look at the life of Bob Dylan with seven actors, including Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Christian Bale, embodying various aspects of his character. Also: "There Will Be Blood" — Paul Thomas Anderson's epic about oil exploration in turn-of-the-century Texas starring Oscar winner Daniel Day Lewis.
Both Haynes and Anderson are Oscar-nominated screenwriters and these films could finally earn them nods for directing. Ang Lee, who picked up a directing Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain," returns to his Hong Kong roots with the spy thriller "Lust, Caution." After the breakthrough success of his "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" in 2000 (which won 4 Oscars out of 10 nominations) this new subtitled picture could well be another contender.
This diamond anniversary edition of the festival will focus on directors. Tim Burton, helmer of the highly anticipated Christmas release "Sweeney Todd," is to be feted with a lifetime achievement award. And the jury will be headed up by acclaimed Chinese director, Zhang Yimou, who has won two Golden Lions for best of the fest — "The Story of Qiu Ju" and "Not One Less." The other members of the jury, who also will be directors, are to be announced on July 26 along with the rest of the film lineup.
(Photos: Weinstein Co.)