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Venice Film Festival: Top films will fill theatres, but on-strike celebs may stay away

The 80th edition of the prestigious festival on the beach-lined Lido could be a more toned-down affair this year with fewer A-listers on the red carpet due to the first industry-wide walkout in more than 60 years that has effectively shut down Hollywood

Published: Jul 26, 2023 01:41:59 PM IST
Updated: Jul 26, 2023 01:56:21 PM IST

Venice Film Festival: Top films will fill theatres, but on-strike celebs may stay awayEmma Stone's movie 'Poor Things' will premier at Venice Film Festival, but the actor is not likely to appear for the release. Image: Aris MESSINIS / AFP

Emma Stone as a Frankenstein-like creature and biopics of Priscilla Presley and Enzo Ferrari will premiere at next month's Venice Film Festival, organisers said Tuesday, although a Hollywood actors strike could keep top stars away.

The 80th edition of the prestigious festival on the beach-lined Lido could be a more toned-down affair this year with fewer A-listers on the red carpet due to the first industry-wide walkout in more than 60 years that has effectively shut down Hollywood.

But although many US actors and actresses may have to stay away, the impact of the strike on the event running from August 30 to September 9 has so far been "very modest", the festival's artistic director, Alberto Barbera, told journalists, with only one film pulling out entirely.

Talent working in independent films, which are not linked to the big studios, may still come to promote their latest work at the festival, he said, in announcing the official lineup.

"So we hope the red carpet won't be as empty as some have stated in recent days," said Barbera.

Among the 23 films competing for the top Golden Lion prize is Bradley Cooper's Maestro about legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein.

Barbera described the film as a "biography of an extraordinary genius" that focuses on Bernstein's tormented relationship with his wife, played by Carey Mulligan.

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It was not clear if director Cooper, who also plays the lead role, will be able to attend.

Venice has increasingly become a launchpad for Oscar contenders, including recent winners such as Joker, La La Land and A Star is Born, with shots of celebrities arriving by gondola making for priceless PR.

Vying for Golden Lion

Stone is not likely to appear for Poor Things in which she again teams up with Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), playing a woman brought back to life by an eccentric scientist.

The festival was forced to switch its opening film last week after Challengers, a tennis romance starring US actress Zendaya, was withdrawn due to the strike.

It has been replaced by Comandante by Italy's Edoardo De Angelis, a World War Two naval drama starring Pierfrancesco Favino.

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But many high-profile Hollywood films are pressing ahead with a Venice premiere, including Sofia Coppola's movie about the wife of Elvis, and Michael Mann's Ferrari with Adam Driver in the lead role.

International directors include France's Luc Besson with Dogman, Mexico's Michel Franco with Memory starring Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard, and Italy's Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) with Io Capitano.

Actors in the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG-AFTRA) went on strike earlier this month after talks to reach a new deal with studios failed, joining writers who have been striking since May.

Demands by the SAG-AFTRA union have focused on dwindling pay in the streaming era and the threat posed by artificial intelligence.

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