Venice star-studded film fest set to open under heightened security

Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:28am EDT
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By Mike Davidson and Agnieszka Flak

VENICE (Reuters) - A musical with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Jude Law as a chain smoking pope and Mel Gibson's come back with a war drama are all tipped as must-sees at the Venice film festival which opens its 73rd edition on the Lido under heightened security on Wednesday.

Top Hollywood talent and auteur directors will be vying for the Golden Lion at the world's oldest film festival which, after a period in the doldrums, is again seen as a launch pad for the industry's award season after premiering Academy winners in its last three editions.

Space drama "Gravity", comedy "Birdman" and last year's clergy sex abuse film "Spotlight" secured Oscars after premiering in Venice and those wins have helped attract talent to this year's festival, said artistic director Alberto Barbera.

"The second element is that this year there is a lot of good stuff around," he told Reuters as the red carpet was laid out in preparation for the star-filled line-up.

The rich selection of U.S. and international movies include Damien Chazelle's "La La Land", the festival's opener, starring Stone and Gosling in a musical comedy-drama about a jazz pianist who falls in love with an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.

"'La La Land' is something that everyone is talking about," said Variety film critic Jay Weissberg. "As much as maybe people don't even want to admit that they like musicals, everybody kind of likes a musical."

Others include fashion designer Tom Ford's thriller "Nocturnal Animals" and Denis Villeneuve's science fiction drama "Arrival", both featuring Amy Adams, and Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge".

Also hotly anticipated are the first two episodes of Paolo Sorrentino's mini TV series "The Young Pope", featuring Law as a conservative, cigarette-smoking American pontiff Pius XIII, which will screen in an out-of-competition section.   Continued...

Director Damien Chazelle (L) and actress Emma Stone (R) attend the photocall for the movie "La La Land"  at the 73rd Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi