An event banner is displayed outside the "Palazzo del Cinema" ahead of the 80th Venice International Film Festival 2023 on August 25, 2023 in Venice, Italy.
Stefano Mazzola/Getty Images


Venice Film Festival Includes Presley And Bernstein Biopics Plus New Woody Allen, Roman Polanski Films

The 2023 Venice International Film Festival kicked off this week with Priscilla Presley and Leonard Bernstein biographical films along with new movies from 87-year-old director Woody Allen, admitted child rapist Roman Polanski, and more.

Presley biopic “Priscilla,” being directed by Sofia Coppola, and Bernstein’s bio “Maestro,” coming from director Bradley Cooper, are just two of the highly-anticipated movies to be premiered at the 80th annual gathering that began August 30 and includes 23 feature films in competition, WWD reported.

Coppola’s “Priscilla” tells the story of Presley’s romance with the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, from her point of view based on Priscilla’s 1985 book “Elvis and Me.”

The filmmaker said she was drawn to adapt the memoir into a film as the daughter of famed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, The Hollywood Reporter noted.

“Oh, it would be a juicy, glamorous story,” Coppola said. “But then I was struck by how much I connected with it emotionally. I thought it was just going to be a fun adventure, and I was surprised by how relatable her story was.”

“I know from my family what it’s like to be inside a show business family,” she added. “I know that growing up, people are looking at you in a different way. And also living in a house with my dad, this big personality, a great artist and a lot of our life revolving around that. And seeing my mom’s life, how she was trying to find her way within his, I could relate to that.”

Next up is “Maestro,” starring Bradley Cooper as famed composer Leonard Bernstein alongside Carey Mulligan as his wife. “Maestro” is “The Hangover” star’s second directorial entry following “Star is Born”

Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” with Adam Driver as Enzo Ferrari alongside Penélope Cruz as his wife Laura, is based on Brock Yates’ biography and it will premiere along with director Ava DuVernay’s “Origin,” her first feature film in five years, Collider noted. “Origin” is based on the book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” Vulture noted.

The annual festival will likely also make headlines when it includes several films in the “Out of Competition” category, one from director Allen and one from disgraced filmmaker Polanski.

Allen’s first French film “Coup de Chance” will premiere this year following his last film to open at an A-list festival in 2016. His filmmaker status in recent years has changed following repeated sexual assault allegations by adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow, Deadline noted. Allen has emphatically denied the accusations. The filmmaker is expected to attend the event in person.

Polanski’s “The Palace” premieres this year and it will be the first time one of his movies has been shown at the festival since 2019, USA Today noted. The 90-year-old disgraced filmmaker will reportedly not make the trip. Polanski previously admitted to sexually abusing 13-year-old Samantha Geimer before fleeing to Europe in the late ’70s. He drugged and sodomized her during a photoshoot at Jack Nicholson’s house in 1977,” per The Daily Wire. At the height of the #MeToo movement, numerous women accused Polanski of sexual assault when they were teenagers, as previously reported.

French film director Luc Besson will attend the festival where he will premiere his film, “Dogman” starring Caleb Landry Jones. Besson was recently cleared of charges in a rape case after Belgian-Dutch actress Sand Van Roy accused him of assault in 2018. He denied the accusation at the time, calling it a “complete and utter lie,” and said “I have never raped a woman in my life,” the BBC News noted. It will be the first film he’s directed since his 2019 movie “Anna.”

Due to the ongoing Hollywood strike of the Screen Actors Guild and America’s Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) an absence of many stars on the red carpet and at the premieres will be noticeable, Collider noted, since the strike prevents the stars from promoting movies.

In order for Presley to promote her film, “Priscilla” secured a SAG-AFTRA Interim Agreement which allows cast members, which includes Jacob Elordi playing Elvis and Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, to do press and appear at the annual festival, Deadline noted. The main reason for the agreement was that the movie was shot in Canada under the production company TCB Productions Canada, the outlet noted.

“There’s multiple national laws that apply to exactly how we address striking that production … That’s one of the things we consider in the process of determining whether we grant an interim agreement,” SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland told the outlet.

“Priscilla” wasn’t the only film to secure an agreement with SAG-AFTRA amid the strike, Variety has confirmed that Adam Driver of “Ferrari” will be at the premiere, however it is unclear, at the time of this publication, if his co-stars Cruz and Shailene Woodley are part of the agreement.

The casts for Cooper’s “Maestro,” Yorgos Lanthimos’s “Poor Things” with Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo, and David Fincher’s psychological thriller “The Killers” aren’t expected to be in attendance, including celebrities like Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton, the outlet noted.

“DogMan” also got an interim agreement allowing the cast to promote the film because it was independently financed, Deadline noted. 

Many of the directors for those movies such as Fincher, Coppola, Mann, and Lanthimos are expected to attend. Cooper is not expected to be at the festival, Variety noted. It kicks off August 30 and runs through September 9.


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