Updated On: November 06, 2023 by   Maha Yassin   Maha Yassin  

Under the fine Italian summer sun, along the canals of the beautiful city of Venice, the Venice Film Festival takes place every year. Featuring films, directors and actors from all over the world, the Venice Film Festival celebrates the beauty of cinema. It presents a world stage for movies to premiers under the watchful eyes of critics and audiences to earn their most wanted praise and awards.

This year a cloud looms over the festivities and hides part of the shining sun of Venice. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in Hollywood are expected to affect the festival somehow, whether by keeping some key Hollywood actors away from Venice or forcing some production companies to withdraw their movies.

However, according to the Venice Film Festival organisers, the strikes had a minimal effect on the festival lineup. Even though the festival has lost its opening film, Zendaya and Josh O’Connor’s Challengers, most of the main lineup is still expected to premiere in Venice between 30 August and 9 September this year. From Sofia Cappola’s Priscilla to David Fincher’s The Killers, the 80th Venice Film Festival is set to be as dazzling as it has always been.

10 Films to Look Forward to at Venice Film Festival

The Venice Film Festival is a time to celebrate works of art from all around the globe. It’s a time for the artists who spent years of their lives crafting their films and project to finally present them to audiences for the first time and wait for their judgement: time for standing ovations, critical acclaim, awards and a life changed forever.

This year, the festival is premiering 21 feature films produced by 19 different countries. Each work is deserving of its own article and its own accolade. However, we have selected the ten films we are excited about the most. These ten films are the ones you should look out for during this year’s festival, as we believe they will sweep the awards and the critics off their feet. 

Priscilla

Director: Sophia Cappola

Country: United States

One year after the release of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, Oscar-winning director Sophia Cappola is premiering her anticipated biopic Priscilla at the esteemed Venice Film Festival. Her film puts the docs on the story of its titular characters, the wife of the King of Rock and Roll, Priscilla Persley. Based on Priscilla’s own 1985 biopic Elvis and Me, Cappola tells the story of how the starry-eyed teenager met Elvis, fell in love and ended up as Priscilla Presley.

Produced by A24 studios with the one and only Priscilla Presley as an executive producer of her own story and starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi as Priscilla and Elvis, the film has already received great reviews from those lucky enough to have already seen it. We expect a great reception of Sophia Cappola’s Priscilla even if the actors cannot attend the much-awaited premier due to the strikes.

Maestro

Director: Bradley Cooper

Country: United States

Nearly five years after his directorial debut at the 75th Venice Film Festival with A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper is back with his second film as director and star, Maestro. Maestro follows the life of renowned composer Leonard Bernstein and, more importantly, his marriage to actress Felicia Montealegre. The film will shine the light on the artist’s 30 years-long relationships and marriage, diving into the personal aspects of the legendary musician’s life.

Produced by Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Todd Phillips and Cooper himself, the film is an ambitious project with high expectations to achieve. The cast includes Cooper as Bernstein, Carey Mulligan as his wife, Felicia Montealegre as well as Matt Boomer, Maya Hawke and Sarah Silverman. If Maestro follows in the footsteps of Cooper’s previous film, we expect to see a lot of award buzz for the movie as well as the stars. For now, we will wait to see.

Origin

Director: Ava DuVernay

Country: United States

Making history as the first African American female director to premier a film at Venice Film Festival, Ava DuVernay returns to the big screen with her feature film Origin. Origin is based on Isabel Wilkerson’s non-fiction book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, which discusses racism in the United States compared to the caste systems of India and Nazi Germany.

The Academy Award-nominated director will be making her Venice debut with Origin. It’s a thrilling surprise to see an African American woman finally represent a movie at the esteemed festival, and Ava DuVernay is an excellent example of a brilliant director who more than deserves attention. We look forward to seeing the film that stars Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor and Vera Farmiga as it graces the Venice screens.

The Killer

Director: David Fincher

Country: United States

The last time we saw David Fincher under the Vencian sun, he premiered his cult-classic film Fight Club in 1999. This time, nearly three decades later, he is returning with a psychological thriller based on a French graphic novel named The Killers. The Killers follows the story of an assassin who starts to form a conscious and decides to leave the field, only to be hunted by his former employer.

This film has been a long-standing passion project for David Fincher that started in 2007 when he signed on as director. The Killer stars Michael Fassbender as the titular character and is supported by Tilda Swinton and Charles Parnell. With a filmography filled to the brim with brilliant movies, we cannot wait to see David Fincher’s latest project, which will surely be another masterpiece.

Evil Does Not Exist

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Country: Japan

Following his Academy Award-winning heartbreaking film Drive My Car, Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi is making his most awaited comeback to the film festival season with two movies, Evil Does Not Exist and Gift. The first will be premiering at Venice Film Festival, with the latter premiering at Belgium’s Film Festival Gent.

Evil Does Not Exist follows a father and his daughter who live in a town on the outskirts of Tokyo. They fight to save their town from being overtaken by a developing company that plans to turn the land into a resort despite its heritage. According to Film Festival Gent’s website, Hamaguchi’s films, Evil Does Not Exist and Gift take a different approach to the same footage and scenario. 

El Conde

Director: Pablo Larraín

Country: Chile

Chilean director Pablo Larraín is gracing Venice Film Festival with his latest project after his highly successful films Natalie Portman’s Jackie and Kristen Stewart’s Spencer. This time the acclaimed director is taking a different route by mixing history and fiction in El Cande. El Conde asks the -not so bizarre- question: What if Chilean infamous dictator Augusto Pinochet was a 250-year-old vampire?

El Conde is not Larraín’s first film that somehow revolves around Pinochet. However, it is the first that directly deals with the dictator in person. This time posing the question of what Pinochet will be up to if he never dies and instead lives on as a vampire who feeds on his evil doings. With such an exciting concept, we can’t wait to see El Conde when it becomes available to stream this November.

Ferrari

Director: Michael Mann

Country: United States

Biopics about married couples seem to be all the rage this festival season, and Ferrari is another one to add to the list. Michael Mann, the director of Blackhat, is speeding into the awards race with a Ferrari, a biopic about the power couple behind the luxury race car company Enzo and Laura Ferrari. Ferrari profoundly looks into the couple’s marriage and their work in turning their company into a household name in car racing.

The film has been in production since 2000, with many A-listers’ names, including Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, attached to the project. However, Oscar nominee Adam Driver eventually landed the role of Enzo Ferrari, with Oscar winner Penélope Cruz playing his wife, Laura Ferrari. Ferrari looks like an exciting film to watch, and since we’re already in the biopic mood, we’ll be tuning in after the Venice Film Festival.

Finalmente l’alba (Finally Dawn)

Director: Saverio Costanzo

Country: Italy

Set during the Hollywood on the Tiber era of the 1950s, Finalmente l’alba is a film by Italian director Saverio Costanzo. The film is about an aspiring actress who auditions to play an extra in a movie only to find herself in a film set among some of the biggest stars in the film industry. 

Director Saverio Costanzo is the director of HBO‘s My Brilliant Friend, and Finalmente l’alba is his debut film to be premiered at Venice Film Festival and entered in the main competition. The film stars Hollywood talents such as Lily James, Willem Dafoe, Joe Keery and Rachel Sennott.

Poor Things

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Country: United Kingdom

Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone are reunited in a new brilliant movie following their highly successful film The Favourite. This time with Poor Things, a new sci-fi take on the classic story of Frankenstein. Poor Things tells the story of a young woman (played by Emma Stone) who is brought back to life by a mad but brilliant scientist (played by William Dafoe). To bring the woman back to life, the scientist implants an unborn baby’s brain into her.

Twisted adaptions of classic stories are always interesting and exciting to see, and Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things sounds exactly like that. With such a brilliant cast of talented actors that includes Oscar winner Emma Stone, William Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef and Margeret Qualley, Poor Things is expected to be a success not just during the festival but after with the general audience as well.

La Bête (The Beast)

Director: Bertrand Bonello

Country: France/Canada

The final film we must tell you about is the French-Candian sci-fi romance The Beast. Loosely adapted from Henry James’s The Beast in the Jungle novella, The Beast tells the story of two people who live in a world where emotions are considered a threat and allow you to get rid of them forever. Gabrielle and Louise meet in this world and instantly connect over their shared feelings that they have -somehow- met before.

Bertrand Bonello has previously directed a film about the French fashion powerhouse designer Yves Saint Laurent. The film was selected for the main competition of the Cannes Film Festival and France’s selection for the Academy Award for Best International Film. With such a strong background, we predict his upcoming project, The Beast, will be just as brilliant.

The Venice Film Festival is a great opportunity to discover astounding new projects by acclaimed directors and sometimes ones you’ve never heard of before. Even though all the movies we’ve featured are part of the main competition, you must not miss checking out the out-of-competition films as well. From Roman Polanski’s The Palace to Wes Anderson’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, many films cannot be missed this season.

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