Cannibals, comedy and a cinema icon share limelight at Venice Film Festival

Among the stars expected to show up on the red carpet will be Ana de Armas (left) and Timothee Chalamet. PHOTOS: ANA_D_ARMAS/INSTAGRAM, TCHALAMET/INSTAGRAM

ROME (REUTERS) - A Marilyn Monroe drama, a cannibal road movie and a black comedy about family life are among the stories showcased at this year's Venice Film Festival.

The world's oldest film festival, regarded as a launch pad for Oscar contenders as awards season approaches, runs from Aug 31 to Sept 10 and features dozens of hotly anticipated movies both in and out of competition.

Among the leading lights expected to show up on the red carpet will be Timothee Chalamet, Sadie Sink, Adam Driver, Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, Penelope Cruz, Ana de Armas, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Christoph Waltz and Sigourney Weaver.

International art house directors will share the stage with established Hollywood figures, as pictures by Darren Aronofsky, Andrew Dominik, Alejandro Inarritu, Luca Guadagnino, Joanna Hogg, Koji Fukada and Jafar Panahi get their first outing.

Four originals by the TV streaming giant Netflix line up in the 23-title competition section, including Dominik's Blonde, which stars de Armas in a fictionalised take on the tragic life of American actress Monroe.

For the first time, Netflix gets the honour of opening the festival with Noah Baumbach's White Noise, starring Driver and Greta Gerwig - a satiric chronicle of family life that is based on a novel of the same name by Don DeLillo.

One of the most anticipated films is likely to be Bones And All featuring Chalamet alongside rising star Taylor Russell as impoverished cannibal lovers in a picture directed by Italy's Luca Guadagnino.

"It analyses the poorest and most marginalised in America, the failure of the American Dream," the festival's artistic director, Alberto Barbera, said on Tuesday (July 26).

Aronofsky's The Whale tells the tale of an obese man, played by Brendan Fraser, trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter, played by Stranger Things actor Sink.

Festival regular Cate Blanchett, who presided over the jury in 2020, returns a competition hopeful with the film TAR, directed by Todd Field - a fictional tale about a famed composer and conductor, who leads a major German orchestra.

This year's main jury is led by actress Julianne Moore.

TAR is one of nine American-produced movies in competition, with five from France, four from Italy and two from Iran - including No Bears by Panahi, who was last week ordered to serve a six-year prison sentence in Iran after being convicted of propaganda against the Islamic Republic in 2010.

Venice often provides a first glimpse of future Oscar winners such as Birdman in 2015. Its director, Inarritu, returns to the city's Lido island with his latest movie, Bardo, a Spanish-language Netflix comedy set in Mexico.

Likewise, Martin McDonagh premiered Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in Venice in 2017, which went on to scoop multiple awards. His follow-up The Banshees Of Inisherin, set in Ireland and starring Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, will get its first showing on the Lido.

As ever, some of the out-of-competition films will receive as much attention as those pushing for the Golden Lion prize.

These include psychological thriller Don't Worry Darling, directed by Wilde and featuring Florence Pugh and Styles, Dead For A Dollar, a Western by Walter Hill starring Waltz and documentary Winter On Fire: Ukraine's Fight For Freedom by Evgeny Afineevsky.

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