4 + 4. Four Italian films in the main competition of the Venice Film Festival: The Leisure Seeker by Paolo Virzì, True Love by Manetti Bros, Hannah by Andrea Pallaoro starring Charlotte Rampling, and A Family by Sebastiano Riso starring Micaela Ramazzotti and Patrick Bruel. Four Italian films in the Orizzonti competition as well: Cindarella The Cat by Alessandro Rak, Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri and Dario Sansone, La vita in comune [Shared Life] by Edoardo Winspeare, Ugly Nasty People by Cosimo Gomez, and Nico 1988 by Susanna Nicchiarelli.  

Artistic director Alberto Barbera states that he’s satisfied with the generational turnover and the high quality of Italian films: “In the past I complained sometimes, but this year Italian films are quite a lot and also very good and diverse. And it’s full of young filmmakers, too: first, second, and third films. Paolo Virzì is the only established Italian director in competition with his American film The Leisure Seeker. Works from other Italian masters, from Salvatores’ to Moretti’s, are not yet ready.” Moreover, he adds: “These new directors work within new expressive models that are able to live up to international standards. It’s a small New Wave, ranging from art films to quasi-commercial work trying to establish a dialogue with the audience.” Barbera defines Manetti BrosTrue Love as a fun and thought-provoking film playing with genres; Sebastiano Riso’s second feature as a classic art-house film on a sensitive topic that will fuel discussions; Andrea Pallaoro as a filmmaker who is not afraid to provoke the audience and who asked a great actress such as Charlotte Rampling to keep a rigorous film all on her shoulders.  

The main competition line-up also includes films by Darren Aronofsky, Guillermo Del Toro, Robert Guédiguian, Andrew Haigh, Chinese controversial artist Ai Weiwei, George Clooney, Abdel Kechiche, Samuel Maoz Koreeda Hirokazu, Alexander Payne, Paul Schrader, and Frederick Wiseman. It’s a line-up full of surprises, betting on new directors: 15 out of 21 filmmakers are in competition for the first time.  

During the long press conference, that was also live streamed on the internet, Barbera listed the whole program, finding words to describe each film “just to remain impartial.” Among the many Italian titles, Barbiana ’65, a documentary branded Istituto Luce-Cinecittà on don Milani, made by images shot by Angelo D’Alessandro - the only filmmaker admitted within the school of the Prior - and newly found and edited by his son Alessandro. Dangerous but Necessary is a homage to an almost forgotten filmmaker – Marco Ferreri – who will be celebrated by the festival by showing one of his cult classics, The Ape Woman. Antonietta De Lillo’s Mister Rotpeter relies on Marina Confalone’s reading of Kafka in the attempt of wiping out any anthropocentrism. In the words of the Neapolitan woman director: “With all the peculiarities of fiction filmmaking, I realised my first portrait of an imaginary character born from the pen of a writer.”  

Francesco Patierno’s Diva! will be presented out of competition and shows nine actresses, from Isabella Ferrari to Anna Foglietta, who impersonate Valentina Cortese. The only male figure on stage is Michele Riondino. In Silvio Soldini’s Emma, Valeria Golino and Adriano Giannini lives a complicated love story: he’s a business man who’s running away from his responsibilities, while she’s a divorced woman, blind since 16. Abel Ferrara’s Piazza Vittorio aroused curiosity and will show a number of interviews with people from different ethnic and social background, all living in the titular area in Rome (where also many filmmakers live). Giovanni Totaro’s Happy Winter (out of competition) is a documentary on the famous Sicilian beach of Mondello. Stefano Consiglio’s Evviva Giuseppe is a film on the life and talents of Giuseppe Bertolucci, a film, theatre and television director, sometimes overlooked due to his most celebrated brother.