Less female directors, more stories about women

Women in Venice 78. More than ever. Even if, at first sight, figures describe a step back. The Artistic Director Alberto Barbera underlined that the decrease of female directors in this 78th edition (eight last year, five this year) is due to a “residual decrease in the total percentage of the selected movies” and it could be a “random fluctuation” that also “confirms, as we already thought, that the long period of productive slowdown impacted more on the female side of the cinematic industry”. In short terms, Covid penalized the most vulnerable parts.

What matters are key roles. The jury of the official competition includes Oscar winner Chloe ZhaoVirginie EfiraCynthia ErivoSarah Gadon. There are many female characters and stories told in original, problematic and imaginative ways.

This year’s program is rich and diverse, thanks to the imagination of directors of both sexes. Starting from the opening film Madres Paralelas. Pedro Almodovar describes the cohabitation and the mutual understanding of Janis (Penelope Cruz) and Ana (Milena Smit), both facing an unexpecting pregnancy. Ana Lily Amirpour’s Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is a fantasy epic about a young woman with paranormal skills (Kate Hudson) who escaped from a mental institution. L’événement by Audrey Diwan tells the story of Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei), who decides to fight the law to have an abortion when was still an illegal practice in France . Maggie Gyllenhaal’s first feature The lost daughter is based upon the novel by Elena Ferrante and tells the story of Leda, a middle-aged who enjoys the taste of freedom during a holiday spent on the Italian seaside. Among the great coming back directors, there’s Pablo Larraìn with Spencer, the story of Lady D played by Kristen Stewart embodies the iconic princess when she decided to split from the royal family. Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog is based on the novel by Thomas Savage. The New Zealand director paints a fresco of machismo and abuse starting from the despotic farmer Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Barbera highlighted the importance of two movies. Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel is set in the Medieval age and tells the chronicle of a trial for rape from three different points of view: the husband, the woman and the rapist. The other one is Les choses humaines directed by Yvan Attal and based upon the novel by French writer Karine Tuil. Alexandre is the son of a rich and respectable family. He’s been accused of rape and his case becomes the eye of a legal and mediatic storm. The story rotates around the crucial topic of these trials: the despicable hypothesis that the victim could be consenting.

The feeling is that in this year’s Venice Film Festival women have been multiplied because of the urgency of passion, confrontation, issues that only women can manage with their sharp and charming strength

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